Vladimir Ryzhkov, Doomsday’s Outrider: I Wanted a NATO Intervention for Christmas

Uncle Volodya says, "Those who beat their swords into plowshares will end up plowing for those who didn't."

Bye-bye, 2011; Happy New Year, everyone! С Новым годом!!

It’s funny, how you can go on reading the same newspaper day after day and, if it’s a foreign paper you mostly read only for the opinion columns, you never notice who the other writers are or what the paper’s political philosophy is. I used to read the Moscow Times every day, but that was during the tenure of the Bush administration. I had taken an interest in foreign politics that year that surpassed by far my interest in what was happening politically in my own country because, as the old saying goes, it’s like sausage; plenty of people are okay with the finished product, but you never want to watch it being made. Anyway, I became a politics junkie on American and Russian issues – the former because the nation had elected a president who offered every appearance of being stone-cold crazy, and the latter because of my Russian wife. The Moscow Times (online edition) became a daily staple, because I enjoyed Chris Floyd’s column, Global Eye, in which he regularly excoriated the Bush administration, and I also browsed it for items of political or military interest on Russia. Suffice it to say that so naive was I, I thought Pavel Felgenhauer actually was an authority on defense matters rather than the western think-tank toady he is. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, all right?

It’s a measure of how long it’s been since I paid any attention to the Moscow Times that I did not notice until today that Chris Floyd was fired in 2006. Apparently his column “no longer fit in with the paper’s plans”. In 2005, the Moscow Times was sold to the Finnish publishing group Sanoma, owned by one of Finland’s richest men, Aatos Erkko (a regular at Bilderberg Group meetings), and members of his family; Sanoma also owns the St. Petersburg Times. At the Moscow Times, former Deputy Editor Andrew McChesney moved up to Editor. I honestly couldn’t say if this marked a change in ideology (although your friend and mine, “Kim Zigfeld” claimed Mr. McChesney as an associate), since I didn’t read most of what was in it.

Well, where was I? Oh, yes; Vladimir Ryzhkov. All that time reading the Moscow Times, and I never heard of Vladimir Ryzhkov. Never took notice of him at all, in fact, until Yalensis pointed out in a comment to the last post that Mr. Ryzhkov would be organizing the next Russian protest march and rally, just as he had organized the last one on December 24th. But he was there all the time, beavering away at the Moscow Times since at least 2002 (as far back as his articles go).

Western journalism long ago abandoned any pretense to objectivity, and it is usually fairly easy to figure out which way a particular source wishes any given issue to go. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for example. Every western source I read at the time of his second conviction damned the Russian judicial system to the blackest depths of hell, to be escorted there personally by Vladimir Putin, for jailing that mild-mannered, incredibly rich prisoner of conscience – why, he wouldn’t hurt a fly, anyone can see that; just look at his little rimless glasses!! He looks like John Denver with a buzz cut!! Plainly, western sources thought Mikhail Khodorkovsky was cute as a button, more or less completely innocent, and only jailed because he represented a political threat to Vladimir the Black-Hearted. Incidentally, a theory to which Mr. Ryzhkov subscribes.

Anyway, the western media is intensely interested in the protests in Russia, and pretty much only those that occur in Moscow, especially since the others across the country seem to be dying out. But a couple of very popular – in the west – “colour revolutions”, those in Georgia and Ukraine, argued persuasively that massive protests in a country’s capital city were quite capable of bringing down the government; in the case of Ukraine, protesters were moved in to Kiev from other regions. The west plainly wants the Moscow demonstrations to succeed in the same objective, and Vladimir Ryzhkov is their point man on the demonstrations. So it behooves us to be interested in him as well.

So, who is Vladimir Ryzhkov? Let’s take a stroll thorough his resume. Mr. Ryzhvov first came to public attention in 1993 as a State Duma member of Russia’s Choice; a party headed by Yegor Gaidar. The principal architect of  the Yeltsin-era “shock therapy” and widespread privatizations that left huge sectors of state assets in the hands of a few fabulously wealthy individuals, Mr. Gaidar was immensely popular with Yeltsin’s western advisers. Jeffrey Sachs, ringleader of the “Harvard Boys” , referred to Gaidar as ” the intellectual leader of many of Russia’s political and economic reforms”. Russians who saw their savings evaporate were, understandably, less complimentary.

At that time, Mr. Ryzhkov was stand-up-and-shout-it pro-Kremlin. But that was when the “Great Reformer” was running the show. He ran as an independent in 1999, but later joined a pro-Yeltsin coalition called the Unity Party of Russia. When Vladimir Putin took over, Ryzhkov was dismissed from the coalition. Wikipedia doesn’t say if those two events were related, but Mr. Ryzhkov sure seems to have a hate on for Putin. He’s a Professor of the Moscow Higher School of Economics (somehow, I knew that was coming), and a prolific writer for Novaya Gazeta, the Moscow Times and the St. Petersburg Times; all, to varying degrees, anti-government, with Novaya Gazeta practically foaming off the presses with rage at Vladimir Putin’s temerity in continuing to live.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that the notion the Kremlin ruthlessly controls the media and makes them goose-step to its bloody tune, and that Putin has everyone killed who opposes him, appears more ridiculous with each new issue of Novaya Gazeta and the Moscow Times; the former calls Putin everything but late for dinner, and the latter is only marginally more circumspect. Somehow, enough staff members always seem to survive the hail of poison darts and the gauntlet of sword umbrellas to get the next issue out.

And what is it with Russian economists? Christ, every one of them reckons Boris Yeltsin, Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais were geniuses, while Vladimir Putin is the village idiot. The economy blew through the basement on its way to the earth’s core under the guidance of the aforementioned Yeltsin, Gaidar and Chubais, and gained steadily under Putin while accumulating the world’s third-largest cash reserves. Vladimir Ryzhkov pens rhapsodies to western business know-how that has resulted in a Eurozone that may not outlast 2012 and a USA that entered the top-20 list of the world’s most indebted nations, with external debt of greater than 100% of GDP. It seems plain that what attracts Mr. Ryzhkov’s admiration is not the west’s business sense, but its power.

Without further ado, then, let’s take a look at how Mr. Ryzhkov saw his country over years of bitterness and western envy.

Much of his earlier work is behind a pay wall at the Moscow Times. The first western daily to be published in Russia, the Moscow Times has been around since 1992. It has a daily circulation of around 35,000 copies (in a city of somewhere between 12 and 15 million), and is given out free in about 500 business centres, hotels, restaurants and embassies. You might wonder why a newspaper that is handed out free in hard copy needs to have all its electronic content behind a pay wall, and I would be wondering right along with you. Especially since sources like La Russophobe brag that while its circulation is tiny, it is one of the most-cited electronic sources in the world. Well, my commitment to journalistic integrity doesn’t extend as far as subscription, so we’re going to have to start at 2004, with a Ryzhkov piece entitled, “Putin’s Mission Impossible“. Gee: that doesn’t sound very optimistic. Maybe we’d better take a look, from the viewpoint that the author was a relatively experienced politician then and is trying to play as much of a part now as he can in the choosing of Russia’s next leader.

Hmmm…well, something that strikes me right out of the gate is that Ryzkhov is characterizing a hopeless political system (Putin’s) by contrasting it with a utopian and presently non-existing one. I know democracy advocates tend to build their fictional government models based on ideals, but still. “Only honest, well trained bureaucrats, devoted to serving the common good, could reform education, healthcare and the armed forces. Only when they are held accountable for their actions by legislatures will they change their age-old habits. Only strict and vigilant civilian control of the military, law enforcement and the security services can introduce transparency into the enormous “war economy.” To conquer poverty and social stratification, Russia needs independent trade unions and a powerful parliamentary opposition. Only an extensive network of independent media, coupled with independent prosecutors and judges, will allow us to root out corruption. Without democratic institutions, we have little hope of restricting the power of the bureaucracy and of cutting through the red tape that hinders growth.

Let’s take a look around the world’s premiere democracies, those for which Mr. Ryzhkov has elsewhere expressed admiration, for parallels.  Honest, well-trained bureaucrats devoted to serving the public good…let’s try the United Kingdom. Ooooo..nope, sorry. Lord Taylor’s was just one of three cases in 2011 of parliamentarians fiddling their travel expense claims; in Lord Taylor’s case, to the tune of £11,277.00. In his own defense, Lord Taylor contended “it had been a common practice among peers to claim for fake journeys and enter expenses claims with a false address as a main residence, and he believed it was acceptable to do this provided there was a “family connection” with the property.” So much for honesty.

Only when they are held accountable by legislatures…let’s try Canada. I realize Mr. Ryzhkov has not specifically expressed admiration for Canadian democracy, but I’d rate it as highly as any other, and there’s no reason my own country should escape the litmus test.  Which, at least according to this source, it fails. “Instead of government “by, for, and of the people,” conducted in open, accountable, and legislative forums, we increasingly have government by executive decree that seems to focus on serving narrow partisan interests rather than the principled public interest. In Canada, this trend is magnified by the dysfunction in the sharing of power among all levels of government – national, provincial, municipal, and aboriginal – which stymies any serious progress on critical issues.” Beat that, Vladimir Putin. Particularly poignant among the largely positive comments to this article is that of Seamus McLuhan: “What is the outcome of collaboration in a society where success is all about self rather than something larger than self? “ You said it, Seamus.

Strict and vigilant civilian control of the military, law enforcement and security services…let’s have a look at the United States. Well, at least one prominent presidential candidate for the upcoming elections this year promises to end civilian control of the military in favour of military commanders. Meanwhile, since the Founding Fathers the USA has had civilian control over the military. That didn’t stop the nation from attacking Iraq on false pretenses, or from leading a regime-change initiative in Libya – while insisting it had nothing to do with regime change – which enabled an al Qaeda-friendly Islamic fundamentalist government. Law enforcement? Generally good and far superior to Russia’s often-corrupt police forces, but not without startling abuses of public trust. Any of these incidents, if they took place in Russia, would be used as exemplary of systemic rot throughout the governing party, and you know it. Rick Perry sounds at least as detached from reality as Zhirinovsky – that the kind of opposition you’re talking about?

It hardly seems fair to me to rail about Putin failing to establish a reliable system that doesn’t really exist anywhere outside conceptualized idealism. There’s nothing wrong with arguing for improvement, but let’s keep it real, what do you say?

Well, we’re going to have to pick things up a bit, or this will turn into a book. Let’s jump to 2006. In the St. Petersburg Times, Ryzhkov argues sarcastically that the delusional Russian government “has been hammering home the image of an unpredictable, aggressive Georgia that is feverishly arming itself for an attack on the defenseless, peaceful enclave of South Ossetia.” This is brought about by the government’s draconian message control via the media, to which he devotes the rest of the article. In 2008, an aggressive and unpredictable Georgia armed and trained by the U.S. government and military did strike South Ossetia. The nation’s leader, Mikheil Saakashvili, only a year before, imposed martial law to crush protest and seized and shut down independent media stations. I have to say you guessed totally wrong on that one, Mr. Ryzhkov.

Forward to 2008 in Mr. Ryzhkov’s work. Family members of Russian bureaucrats, he tells us, ” live in luxurious homes in the west, and their children study there. The money they have stolen from the state budget and major state-owned companies sits in foreign bank accounts”. Let’s recall that the last time Mr. Ryzhkov was politically active for any length of time, he was a devoted supporter of Boris Yeltsin, who handed control of state industries to connected businessmen who became so rich overnight they could easily afford luxurious homes in the west. Indeed, that’s just where several of them went. Mr. Ryzhkov hypothesizes that “corruption and the already large income gap will grow even more“. In fact, minimum wage in Russia was doubled only the year before. And I daresay there is a substantial income gap between the average Russian full-time employee and the aforementioned Mikhail Khodorkovsky – whom Mr. Ryzhkov views as a wronged political prisoner, to the extent he joined in petitioning the U.S. Senate to blacklist Russian political and judicial figures identified as “enemies of YUKOS”.

Another jump, to 2009. Mr. Ryzhkov moaned in “Very Little to Celebrate” what a mess the country was in. Incomes, he wept, have remained almost the same over the last 20 years. Is that so? No, it’s not; it’s bullshit. As you can see here, Russian per-capita GDP adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rose steadily throughout Putin’s terms, and in 2009 was nearly triple what it was in 1999. Russia’s recovery from the global financial crisis was decidedly more robust than that of the United States. Ryzhkov’s ode to failure sounds like something that might be featured at La Russophobe – where, coincidentally, he received a ringing endorsement that year in which she informed her audience Ryzhkov reminded her of “the good old days when the mighty Moscow Times (circulation, 35,000) was not afraid to speak truth to power“. She also described Mr. Ryzhkov, last summer, as “…with Boris Nemtsov, [one] of the three most significant political figures in Russia today”. High praise, indeed. This is the same source, I need hardly remind you, which regularly referred to Russians as pigs and characterized Russian girls as prostitutes.

Well, we have to move this along – 2010. In another sunny piece of optimism wrapped in high hopes entitled, “Forever Stuck in Stagnation”, Mr. Ryzhkov informs us that “…the situation for small and mid-sized businesses in Russia is worsening in all regions. Companies are closing down, and the unemployment rate is worsening.” Mr. Ryzhkov has no better idea than I do how many small businesses are operating at any time in Russia, as a substantial number are unregistered in order to avoid payroll taxes, and the unemployment rate in the month Mr. Ryzhkov wrote that little pick-me-up was about half what it was when Mr. Putin took the reins from Ryzhkov’s hero, Boris Yeltsin. It declined steadily throughout Vladimir Putin’s leadership except for a blip associated with the global financial crisis. Today, it is at least 2% less than that of the United States.

2010 was also the year Ryzhkov began to give voice to his hopes that the downfall of Putin’s administration lay in increased internet penetration. He dedicated “China and Russia will be Forced to Democratize” to excited rambling about the positive effect of the internet in China on bringing the authorities to heel, interspersed with smug chuckling about blogs and YouTube being used by internet-savvy Russian youth to do an end run around state television. He sings the praises of Deng Xiaoping, “visionary chief architect of Chinese reforms”, and muses ruefully about how much more competent Chinese Communist leaders are in economics and political matters than their Russian counterparts.

As much as I also admire China’s can-do attitude, I’m compelled to point out that in 2010 it shared a berth with Chad, Belarus and Syria for “severely suppressing opposition political activity, impeding independent organizing, and censoring or punishing criticism of the state” according to Freedom house’s “Worst of the Worst 2010“. That wise old visionary architect of reform, Deng Xiaoping, developed a concept known as the Socialist Market Economy. When the Great Leap Forward failed to deliver on its promises, Deng Xiaoping showed willingness to embrace the free market, but it might be characterized as a brother-sister hug in terms of passion. He “remained committed to centralized control and the one-party state”. This reference goes on to suggest, “the fundamental distinction between the Chinese and Western mixed-market economy models lies less in the implementation of the mixed economic model but rather in the underlying authoritarian political philosophy, which eschews Western notions of democracy, individual rights, and the rule of law.”

An authoritarian system, I need hardly mention, which makes that of Vladimir Putin look pretty liberal by comparison. Marxists criticize the Socialist Market Economy model “on the grounds that [it] restores capitalist commodity relations and production while further dis-empowering the working class, leading to a sharp increase in social inequality and the formation of a growing capitalist class.” That more like what you had in mind, Mr. Ryzhkov?

So, here we are back in the now. Vladimir Ryzhkov organized the rally on December 24th, and must have been very excited by the response. He hopes to pull better than a million Russians into the streets for the next one. The big draw at the December rally, and doubtless up in lights on the marquee for the next, was Alexei Navalny. Not much is currently known about Navalny’s ideas on economic reform – I’m hoping more insight will come about with Yalensis’s translation of the Navalny interview with Ekho Moskvy. But he did say that he – as Russia’s leader – would stabilize and legalize privatization.

Just like Ryzhkov’s last hero.

This entry was posted in Alexei Navalny, Economy, Government, Law and Order, Politics, Rule of Law, Russia, Vladimir Putin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

422 Responses to Vladimir Ryzhkov, Doomsday’s Outrider: I Wanted a NATO Intervention for Christmas

  1. Giuseppe Flavio says:

    Hi guys,
    yesterday I read on RIA Novosti this piece about a “smear” video involving Vladimir Ryzhkov, the subject of this post, using bad language. Can Russian speakers give more details on the video? It isn’t clear to whom the bad language was directed, but knowing the liberasti attitude at insulting their supporters I wouldn’t rule out Ryzhkov introduced some new terms for the “internet hamster”.

    • Evgeny says:

      Hello!

      I guess it’s this video (in Russian):

      One of those guys (Ryzhkov & Gudkov) has used foul speech in regards of Navalny, etc.

      What’s more interesting is why the RIA Novosti is using the definition “Opposition leaders” in regards of those guys.

      Have you heard of Marina Yudenich’es claims of anti-Putin attitude of the RIA? (In Russian)

      http://marina-yudenich.livejournal.com/713610.html

      • The anti Putin attitude of RIA Novosti has been absolutely obvious to me for some time and I have remarked on it elsewhere especially on Anatoly’s Sublime Oblivion blog. It has been giving time to anti Putin and pro US commentators like Konstantin von Eggert (where does the “von” come from?) for some time but the anti Putin bias has now begun to infect its factual reporting and the cited example seems to be a case in point. I have wondered about this and whether it is another symptom of Medvedev’s attempts to conciliate the opposition by giving them a platform through a major news agency. An alternative explanation is that the Kremlin is permitting RIA Novosti to take an anti government line in order to balance the strong pro government line taken by the far more widely viewed and followed RT. Anyway though I still regularly check the RIA Novosti website for factual reporting and analysis I prefer ITAR TASS and Interfax.

      • Giuseppe Flavio says:

        Thanks for your answer. Note how the article reports the foul language directed at Navalny as “The video also showed the two politicians discussing plans to distance themselves from Alexei Navalny”.
        I agree with Marina Yudenich and Alexander Mercouris that there is a liberasti attitude in RIA Novosti, which has been going on for quite a long time. Some years ago there was a certain Ian Pryde writing plainly russophobic articles, now there is Konstantin von Eggert along with some others. I too have the feeling that as of late RIA Novosti is even more in the liberasti camp. To my knowledge, it isn’t the only case of a state-owned media outlet entertaining the liberasti view, which I find puzzling.
        Note: I use the term liberasti instead of liberal because the latter term has different meanings in politics. It means leftist views in the USA, denotes a conservative in most of Europe, but the Russian liberals are a species on their own, neither leftist nor conservative.

        • Dear Giuseppe,

          You are of course absolutely right about use of the word “liberal”.

          I ought to say that “liberal” is the third in the series of names these people have called themselves. Back in the 1989 to 1991 they called themselves “the Left” even though no less a person than Gorbachev himself pointed out that they were actually the Right. In the 1990s they called themselves “democrats”, which I always found infuriating since it implied that anyone who disagreed with them was opposed to democracy. As I recall they started to be called and to call themselves “liberals” during Putin’s Presidency.

          A Russian acquaintance I was once met, who is now a successful metals trader and who had formerly supported them, called them “ultra rightists”, which up to a point I think is right. Certainly their extreme position on privatisation and free markets would put them well to the right in most places. However “ultra rightist” could cause confusion with nationalists and fascists and for that reason I think should be avoided.

          On balance and though you make a persuasive case for “liberast” I am going to continue to call them liberals. I do so as a former historian because the word links them to the liberals of the late Tsarist period The attitudes and behaviour of those liberals in many respects and not least in their extreme sense of entitlement were so similar to those of Russian liberals today that I think I am going to stick with the word for the moment.

          • Much as I love the word liberast, I hesitate to use it for two reasons:

            1. To the uninitiated, it makes one come off as a foaming at the mouth pro-Kremlin partisan, which is not an image that is conductive to making a persuasive argument.

            2. It can lead to charges of homophobia (because in Russian pederasty in the vernacular is associated with homosexuals, not so much the English meaning of sex with male children). This can lead Russian liberals into claiming one has an anti gay agenda, despite their own searing hatred for LGBT rights (e.g. main gay rights activist Alexeyev being denied a platform at Bolotnaya and Triumfalnaya).

            There has to be a better word. For the moment, I tend to refer to them as “limousine liberals” or “the Russian liberals” (to emphasize they are neither American lefty liberals nor European social rights liberals).

            • yalensis says:

              If you really want to sound like a foaming Putinite, then call them подпиндосники (“podpindosniki”) !
              Seriously, I like that term better than “liberast” because it does not include, as you remark, the anti-gay connotation.

              • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                Which is the etymology of подпиндосники? I like the liberasti because in Italian it sounds like a mix between liberale and estremisti (extremist).

                • yalensis says:

                  Giuseppe: Etymology of подпиндосники? Ah! That is an extremely interesting political/linguistic question! Unfortunately, a full answer would require a very long essay, requiring pages of footnotes and even allusions to the works of Anton Chekhov.
                  Here is a relatively short answer: the Russian slang word пиндос (“pindos”) is a derogatory ethnic slur for “American”. Nobody really knows the origin of this term(although there are many theories). Apparently the word was used a century ago (and is seen in the works of Anton Chekhov) as a synonym for “foreigner”. There is speculation of Greek origin, maybe referred to ethnic Greeks living in the Crimea. One version says it is the name of a type of Greek pony.
                  In any case, during the Bosnian war of the early 1990’s, Russian peacekeepers stationed in Yugoslavia suddenly and for no apparent reason started referring, in a hostile manner, to American peacekeepers as “pindosi” (which is the plural of “pindos”). If you call an American a “pindos”, that is not a compliment. It implies every bad stereotype about Americans: arrogant, violent, domineering, ignorant, etc.. Derivatives include “Pindostan” (derogatory word for America), USP (United States of Pindostan), and “pod-pindosnik” (somebody who sucks up to the “pindosi”, from the Russian preposition “pod” – “under”).

                • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                  Many thanks for the explanation Yalensis.

      • yalensis says:

        I can’t understand a word they’re saying. KBG must have planted bug too far away in
        noisy restaurant.
        P.S. Who the heck is Gudkov? I never heard of him.

        • yalensis says:

          And I notice that Ryzhkov had to pay for the coffee and snacks. Whoever this Gudkov is, he is a cheap SOB.

        • kievite says:

          I can’t understand a word they’re saying. KBG must have planted bug too far away in
          noisy restaurant.
          P.S. Who the heck is Gudkov? I never heard of him.

          First of all it looks like an internal liberasts dirty games as they fight like rats for power and related currency flows. But this is a bomb almost equal in power to Nemtsov phone calls interceptions. Which means that for a while whole two guys can probably be called “former prominent liberasts politicians”.

          Before this bomb Gudkov (http://gudkov.ru/) was the second man in “Just Russia”. Funny he is a former KGB officer.

          The effect on both “heroes” is very similar to the effect on Nemtsov by his phone recordings where he demonstrated his skills (sometimes very aptly) to characterize his “comrades liberasts” ;-).

          Here this part was present too, but the real bomb was in thier disucssion of coup d’etat against Mironov. They revealed a pretty dirty plan for hijacking “Just Russian”, deposing Mironov and making from it the new “Right cause”.

          As a result Gudkov was pretty close to losing party membership when his betrayal was discussed. Only the fact that they are pretty close to elections permitted him to save his scalp. It is now clear that Just Russia consists on two factions with one minority faction headed by Gudkov being identical to Ryzkov/Nemsov liberasts.

          Another interesting tidbit is that both of them really hate Navalny simply as a political competitor and try to think how to block his attempts to become an opposition leader. And generally to neutralize his growing influence, so that they can preserve their own positions (which now will be pretty difficult to do :-).

          See http://vz.ru/politics/2012/1/18/554423.html

          Несмотря на то что запись и публикация разговора Рыжкова и Гудкова ни с моральной, ни с юридической стороны не могут считаться нормальными, содержание их беседы любопытно, во-первых, идеей отстранения Сергея Миронова от руководства «Справедливой России» (Гудков: «Кому-то в конечном итоге надо будет взять эту партию, возглавить, это я уверяю, и сформировать нормальную, массовую социал-демократическую партию. По нормальному, по европейскому образцу, вот что нужно сделать. А Миронов – это просто игра, он умеет говорить, он научился за эти годы. Но я-то его хорошо знаю, мои выступления, моя программа»), а во-вторых, предложением хоть как-то ограничить влияние Алексея Навального на столичную протестную активность (Рыжков: «Если мы, пять политиков, утрамбуем Серегу Пархоменко, то он возьмет на себя Навального, чтобы он нас не переиграл если вдруг успеют предупредить Быкова и Парфенова, Навальный уже не сможет переиграть»).

          • yalensis says:

            Thanks, @kievite.
            The Vzgliad article mentions that the conversation is of very poor quality and not really audible:

            С возможностью монтажа согласен и генеральный директор Международного института политической экспертизы Евгений Минченко, который в интервью газете ВЗГЛЯД заявил о том, что «на записи ничего не понятно, очень плохое качество, но уголовное дело заводить необходимо».

            And yet somebody was able to extract meaningful content from this noisy tape, which leads me to hypothesize that this someone had access to sophisticated sound technology (like you see in those police movies where they do voice analysis and remove the noise from the background, etc.)
            Also, from the angle of the camera and the occasional glimpse of parts of a guy sitting at the next table, I deduce that he was the one with the hidden camera and microphone.
            He is probably KGB agent, but could also be a pro-Putin amateur, like that Andrew Breitbart/James O’Keefe team in USA who perform similar video stunts for the Republican Party. He was obviously using cheap equipment, could even be just a phone with a video camera. But, again, decoding the noisy content shows some technological sophistication, I believe.
            Returning to the vzgliad article, it concludes that the police have not been involved in this illegal taping, because nobody has submitted any complaints to them.

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              Hi Yalensis,
              I can’t say how bad is the audio quality, but there are alternative explanations to the use of high tech. First, with today’s computer you can do a lot, like the kind of analysis that 10 years ago were limited to labs. Second, the guy that shot the video may have heard the conversation much better than what is shown in the video (as you say, it was cheap equipment) and so was able to provide the transcript using both the recorded audio and his memory (and eventually some notes).
              Also, I’d like to make some other hypothesis on the identity of this “mole”. He could be a Navalnyte on a mission to bust “traitors” or an activist from “Fair Russia” (which is Gudkov’s party) that doesn’t like Gudkov. That he is an FSB agent is IMHO the most remote possibility, I think they have better equipment.

  2. kievite says:

    And now Reuters paid legionaries of “info wars” about Gudkov/Ryzkov scandal :-)http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/18/russia-putin-media-idUSL6E8CI3WF20120118

    In an apparent attempt by Putin’s allies to sow discord among protest leaders, a video of politicians plotting against fellow opposition figures and swearing profusely also surfaced on YouTube earlier on Wednesday.

    The clip, recorded via hidden camera and phone tapping techniques reminiscent of Soviet-era KGB surveillance, shows them scheming to sideline one of the protest movement most popular leaders, blogger Alexei Navalny.

    “This material is being used to split the opposition … to create an atmosphere of distrust and mutual suspicion,” said a Just Russia deputy Gennady Gudkov, shown chatting in the video with fellow opposition leader Vladimir Ryzhkov.

    Last month, a Kremlin-loyal outlet published recordings of another opposition politician’s telephone calls, in which he denigrated supporters, in a sign powerful former spies in Putin’s circle may be acting to undermine the protest movement. (Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Writing by Gleb Bryanski; Editing by Alison Williams)

    • marknesop says:

      Western reporting really is quick to get the jump on the narrative, isn’t it? If you can’t erase it, spin it. Of course this is spider mastermind Putin, in the middle of the great web, pulling strings. You begin to wonder how such a recognizable man as Putin can slip about undetected, filming all these delightful indiscretions; perhaps he’s in disguise, with one of those nose-and-spectacles combinations, or is using his Harry Potter cloak of invisibility.

      It’s also interesting the manner in which the debate is shifted to who might be at the bottom of it, rather than the obvious fact that the two are speaking of Virtual President Navalny in extremely derogatory terms. Especially Ryzhkov, who – for public consumption – pronounced himself thrilled with Navalny’s hoarse screaming onstage (which we learned, courtesy of Simon Shuster, that he does only because he hates Putin so much that he can’t control himself, and not because he’s a nut) and unable to wait for Navalny’s contribution to the next event, of which he is organizer. That sounds a little hypocritical now, doesn’t it? I wonder how Navalny will manage this latest defection? Will he chuckle ruefully and say “The Kremlin is wery bad at wideo-surveillance?”

      Viewers are invited not to speculate on what rogues the “opposition leaders” are for scrabbling in the dirt for power and likely displaying the sort of cutthroat tactics they would employ to remain in power once given it, but to speculate on what rogues the government are for revealing it.

      Imagine a western parallel where that invitation would see broad acceptance. I’m afraid I can’t. Expect a meeting to be called in the woodshed very soon for “opposition leaders” (I say that sarcastically because it seems all you have to do to be one now is say something critical of the government) to reinforce message discipline and sticking to the talking points.

      • There are a lot of points to make here:

        1. Given that much of the opposition denies the legitimacy of the government it is entirely understandable that the FSB is keeping tabs on them. This happens in every country. By way of example it was recently revealed here in Britain that the British police had planted infiltrators in various activist organisations some of whom had gone so far as to have affairs with members of those organisations and to father children on them.

        2. It is also not at all surprising that the FSB or people inside or connected to it might be making discreetly public some of the information that has come to light about the people it is monitoring. Again this happens in many countries. In Britain as the Murdoch scandal has exposed this sort of behaviour lies within the competence of the newspapers who employ what are in effect private intelligence services for that purpose but there is no doubt that newspapers here also receive regular tip offs and information from the intelligence services and the police.

        3. Given the narcissistic nature of Navalny’s personality and the cult like nature of his movement, something we have already discussed, it is not at all surprising that other members of the opposition personally detest him. As I have previously said Navalny is the sort of person who cannot have allies or colleagues but only followers. It is not all surprising that longer established opposition leaders such as Ryzhkov should resent him and I pretty sure the same is true of others like Nemtsov and Kasparov not to mention Yavlinsky with whom Navalny has of course already fallen out. It is in the nature of narcissistic and psychopathic personalities that those who come into contact with them either completely succumb to them or strongly reject them. In Ryzhkov’s case his rejection of Navalny is to his credit.

        4. If Fair Russia were ever taken over by the lberals it would cease to be a socialist party in which case the reason many voted for it would disappear. I understand that there is resistance amongst many politically informed Russians to talk about left and right but if the parliamentary elections have told us anything it is that in Russia these things do matter.

        5. I suggested in any earlier comment that Sergei Mironov was the only Presidential candidate the opposition could support that might have a chance of getting to the second round or even hypothetically of defeating Putin and of then carrying out at least some of the policies the liberals want. It seems that instead of understanding this and supporting Mironov in the election some liberals are instead intent on undermining him. Not surprisingly Mironov’s campaign seems at the moment to be sputtering out. With enemies like these does Putin need friends? Truly he must feel that with the present liberal bunch the US has bought for him the best opposition money can buy.

  3. kievite says:

    Funny

    • marknesop says:

      Funny and smart, if it’s accurate. I’d be interested to know what steps Russia is taking to protect its foreign holdings abroad against seizure by the west – a favourite regime-change tactic – and their subsequent re-gifting to the opposition.

  4. marknesop says:

    Well, well. Economists at the World Bank warn of a looming global economic downturn that could have a worse effect than the 2008 crash. Developing economies in particular are encouraged to have financing lined up in preparation for the rug being pulled out from under them. Of course, that might not be quite so painful for countries that have large cash reserves to help them ride it out. Or are sitting on lots of something the world has to have no matter how shitty the economy gets; like, say, energy.

    How’s stability looking to you now, Russian protesters who are tired of “settling for stability”? You know, the interesting thing about stability is the way that, when it starts to look like stagnation for you, all it takes to make it look like stability again is to have stability taken away from the rest of the world.

    • Seizing Russia’s foreign assets would be a very dangerous thing to do given that Russia could retaliate by cutting off gas supplies and or the supply route to Afghanistan. That does not mean of course that such a thing could not happen.

      • marknesop says:

        Yes, that’s a good point; I hadn’t thought of that. When Libya’s assets were seized and gifted to the opposition her output had already stopped and the deficiency was essentially compensated for. But she’s a small-scale producer, while Russia is the world’s largest.

  5. apc27 says:

    Dear Mark,

    With 250+ comments for this post, its becoming quiet difficult to follow the discussion. Maybe you could write a new post, even if it is a short one, or do something else?

    The comments section for wordpress, it seems, have not been designed to handle that number of comments, without becoming confusing and incoherent.

    • marknesop says:

      Hi, Alex; I totally agree, but I have been so busy lately I barely have time to read the comments and occasionally respond, never mind come up with something new. The general subject we’re discussing – the upcoming election and the dynamics simmering beneath the surface – is extremely interesting to me, but it’s too broad a subject to cover overall in something as short as a blog post. Is there something that stands out in your mind or that you have read that you think would make a good post? I’ve gotten great inspiration in the past from suggestions from cartman, sinotibetan, yalensis and others, and as I implied, I don’t have much free time at the moment to search for material. Also, I’ll be on a course next week, further redirecting my attention.

      • yalensis says:

        If only the KGB would show some mercy and furlough kovane from his Lubyanka gig, then he could write a new post for us to pounce on!

        • marknesop says:

          Be careful; you’re starting to sound like a volunteer yourself! Got anything?

          • yalensis says:

            No, but I had an idea: how about a post on why Russian politicians swear so much? Nemtsov is the master, of course, but Ryzhkov has shown himself to be no slouch. And Putin himself is known for his “salty” tongue!

      • Evgeny says:

        Hello, Mark.

        Some links to the recent press:

        http://tinyurl.com/77pm3lv

        Regards,
        Evgeny.

        • marknesop says:

          I can see even before I’ve read through them all that there is some great stuff here, Evgeny; thanks very much!! Wow, the Akunin piece is going to be a classic in a couple of years. He believes he “and others like him” are “a clear majority” in Moscow!!! Does he even know how many people live there? He believes Putin will fall quickly, but he hopes not too soon; not before he loses every bit of popularity, until even his mother (if she’s still alive) says, “Get out of here, Volodya, it makes me sick to look at you!!!” This is a brilliant display of hedging your bets; no matter what happens, Akunin predicted it. If Putin stays for another 12 years, it’s only because he’s not quite unpopular enough yet.

          My wife likes Akunin’s crime fiction, but I think he is missing a lucrative sideline if he does not try comedy.

          • Dear Mark,

            Akunin’s comments about Russian politics and his devotion to Khodorkovsky are for me good examples of the stupidity to which a clever man can fall to. Putin by the way has just suggested that the reason Akunin has become so critical of him is because Akunin who is of Georgian ancestry cannot forgive Putin for Georgia’s defeat in the 2008 war.

            I too enjoy Akunin’s crime fiction but I think the Fandorin stories at least have started to suffer from a distinct falling off of quality as the series progresses. Also Akunin though supposedly a Japan expert has a remarkably false and stereotypical view of Japanese culture judging by how he presents it in his books. I speak from knowledge here since at one time I had to work for many Japanese clients and a practising Japanese lawyer remains a close friend.

            • marknesop says:

              In a piece published by The Power Vertical, Akunin appeared disproportionately angry at Putin for suggesting he bore a grudge owing to the 2008 war with Georgia. While other sources crowed triumphantly that Putin had “played the Georgia card” (implying Putin is a racist because he brought it up, just another contribution to the Putin-is-desperate-and-will-do-anything-to-cling-to-power theme), Akunin sighed that Putin learned to smear his opponents in KGB school, that this is how he operates.

              Let me ask you this, because I’m curious; how long do you have to be out of a profession before people stop relating everything you do to it? Vladimir Putin finished KGB school 36 years ago. He has been out of the KGB for 20 years, and has been involved in politics for years longer than he was in the KGB. Yet this continues to define him.

              When Silvio Berlusconi cried while he listened to Bibi Netanyahu pay tribute to his mother, did people say, “Oh, he’s so emotional – what do you expect from a cruise-ship singer“? When Tony Blair cited bogus weapons data to get the British onside with America’s desert adventure in Iraq, did people say later, “Well, of course he doesn’t know anything about foreign policy; he’s only a rock musician“?

              I have to wonder how Georgian Akunin is, anyway – he’s lived in Russia since he was two years old. I seem to recall experts being confident that we have no memories at all as adults of anything that happened before we were 3 or so.

              • yalensis says:

                Well, Putin’s allusion to Akunin’s ethnicity is definitely a political shot across the bow and could very well be an unfair dig. If I were Akunin, I would have addressed this directly: “Well, for sure, I am an ethnic Gruzian. But my loyalty is to Russia. I was a rabid supporter of the Russian army in the 2008 conflict.”
                Or, conversely: “I am mostly a loyal Russian, but in this particular war I supported Saakashvili, because he is a beacon of democracy.”
                But Akunin did not address Putin’s sly dig or specify which side he supported in 2008. If he wants to participate in Russian politics, seems like he would need to clarify this, especially now that his opponent (Putin) has raised the issue.

                • hoct says:

                  It is certainly poor form coming from Putin. You can not at the same time promote civic Rossian identity as something surpassing ethnic national identity and question someone’s loyalty simply on the account of their ethnic nationality, without any evidence they are less than perfect Rossians (on the other side of a valid inter-Rossian disagreement).

                  When Akunin says his being of Georgian ethnic nationality does not preclude him from Russia being his country and does not make him an enemy of Russia he is only saying something Putin has been adamant about for years. It is poor form of Putin to switch around and raise doubt about Rossianism of non-Russians when convenient.

                • marknesop says:

                  That is an excellent point, and if Putin has a fault it’s that he doesn’t listen to his own image managers – especially at a time when the liberals are parsing everything that leaves his lips for the explosive wedge issue that will unite the electorate against him. But Putin seems impervious to this and continues to drop crude clangers that only assist his enemies in their characterization efforts. The condom thing was just stupid, there were so many ways to disparage the white ribbon emblem without going there.

                  That said, Akunin did not make the most of his opening as you describe; to the best of my understanding, he allowed his own temper to get the better of him and fired off an angry rejoinder about Putin smearing him in the manner he learned in KGB school.

                  Opportunities lost by both camps. I don’t know that Putin was trying to needle Akunin, and I don’t think his comment was that explosive unless I misunderstood it – he merely said Akunin couldn’t have been happy with Russia’s actions against Georgia in 2008. If delivered cleverly, it would actually be pretty smart, because Russians who think Russia should have backed off and let Saakashvili claim a victory are few and far between, and it would have put Akunin at odds with popular opinion. But if Akunin had come back gently and sorrowfully, proclaiming his incontestable right to be recognized as Russian, he would have scored a telling blow and the whole thing would likely have rebounded to Putin’s discredit.

                  Putin needs to have everything he says videotaped for a couple of weeks, and review it each day so he can learn to be a bit more diplomatic. I fully agree with his taking a hard line with the west, because the west has earned it. But he missed a good chance to cast Akunin as not so different from himself, and thus to remove much of the barb from Akunin’s future challenges.

                • Actually Putin heads an ethnically fairly diverse government. The Economics Minister (Naibullina) and the Interior Minister (Nurgaliyev) are Tatars, the Foreign Minister (Lavrov) is partly Armenian and the head of the SVR and former Prime Minister (Fradkov) is partly Jewish. The previous Economics Minister (Gref) is German. Primakov, the previous Prime Minister and spy chief who is now politically close to Putin is Jewish. People in the west who harp on about the supposed ethnic nationalism of Russians should note this and the fact that the ethnic diversity of the government has never in Russia been a political issue.

                  As I understand it whilst the Georgian diaspora in Russia initially strongly backed Saakashvili it no longer does so. At the time when Saakashvili was arresting and publicly humiliating Russian soldiers who at that time still had a base in Georgia in what amounted to a hostage incident (I think this was in 2006) there were some officially directed retaliatory measures taken against Georgians in Russia and I vaguely remember reading that Akunin who at that time was apolitical was on the receiving end of some of them. If so then I suspect that it was that event rather than the 2008 war that might have radicalised him. By contrast it is very striking that after the 2008 war there seems to have been no hostility directed against the very large Georgian diaspora living in Russia at all. I am not aware of a single incident. Had there been one can be sure that Saakashvili would have trumpeted it as loudly as possible and that the western media would have gleefully joined in. To my mind this is yet further evidence of a point that I repeatedly make and which western commentary repeatedly gets wrong, which is that contrary to the image of Russians as racist and xenophobic and extremely nationalistic they are on the contrary a very tolerant people.

                • yalensis says:

                  To play devil’s advocate:
                  I think Putin’s shot at Akunin might be a smart political move. It is slightly Karl Rove-ian, but not completely sleazy. It is a “dog whistle” gambit, true, but I don’t see it as necessarily racist. This gambit helps to discredit pro-Western Opposition by forcing them to state exactly where they stand on the 2008 war. I suspect that the vast majority of Oppositionists in fact secretly support Saakashvili. They probably compose toasts to him in their private conclaves. That is their right. But since they seek to gain power and put themselves in the Kremlin, then they need to clarify this with the Russian electorate, who are majority patriotic and supported Russian side in 2008 war.
                  Like I said above, Akunin cannot dance around this issue, he must state his opinion. It is not his genetic ethnicity that is under attack, that would be unfair. It is his stand on the 2008 war. My advice to him: Don’t beat around the bush. Be authentic and tell the Russian public exactly how you feel about that war. Then let them decide whether or not they want to seat you and your cohorts in those big chairs inside the Kremlin.

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              Dear Alexander,
              can you suggest me some book about Japanese culture? I’m an avid watcher of Japanese movies, with time I’ve learned a few things on Japan, but I still lack a systematic knowledge.

  6. Looks like Italy has become fair game for the British media.

    My commiserations, Giuseppe.

    • marknesop says:

      I think everybody knew Sylvio Berlusconi was a buffoon, and I never liked him; I was stunned when Italy re-elected him after I thought he was gone for good. But I never think of Sylvio Berlusconi when someone says “Italian man”.

      I think of Cirro Tufo, the only real Italian man I ever met (by which I mean he was actually born in Italy and lived there all his life; I’ve met plenty of Italian-Americans and Italian-Canadians). I met him on a course in HMS DRYAD in the early 2000’s, in England, which was taught and hosted by the Navy but was actually subordinate to the RAF. I was one of four Canadians, but the only one from the Navy; the rest were Air Force. There was one Royal Navy, and not even really a sailor; he was an HAS-3 Lynx pilot, and the rest of the Brits were RAF. And Cirro. Cirro was a fighter pilot, flying the Panavia Tornado IDS. He was ridiculously handsome, but we never realized how outclassed we were until the first night we got together for a pub crawl. Cirro’s clothes had the casual elegance of a Giorgio Armani magazine ad, and his shoes looked like they cost more than our combined monthly income. In comparison, we looked like a bunch of farmers who had stopped for a quick dip in the river on our way into town and then just picked clothes from the pile at random. And it went without saying that no sissies flung a 30-ton aircraft around at over 900 mph when you could almost feel the daisies ticking off the belly; Cirro’s specialty was ground attack, and he had either just started or was pretty good at it, because he was still alive.

      The only attention we got from the Portsmouth girls was requests to be helped up from those who had gotten trampled in the rush for Cirro. That’s who I think of when someone mentions Italian men. I think most people realize the cruise-ship Captain wasn’t typical of Italian manhood. She’s right that Berlusconi was an embarrassment, and so is the cruise-ship captain. Wrong to draw any further associations, though.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Nothing new, we and a lot of other countries have been fair game for the British media since a long time. By fair game I mean the attitude that when something bad happens in Italy (or Greece, or Russia, etc.) it is because we’re not British enough. In the case of Russia this attitude reaches its paranoid peak.
      But I’ve to add something in defence of the British people. For each country their media smears, those writing the maddest things often are not British but from the targeted country, like Cristina Odone.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        Like this contributor to the London Review of Books, Peter Pomerantsev, a British TV producer of obvious Russian ancestry who clearly thinks that the sun shines out of Khodorkovsky’s arse.

        See: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n20/peter-pomerantsev/putins-rasputin

        Pomerantsev also contributes to an organization known as the Committee for Russian Economic Freedom, where he writes: “The usual way to get jobs in Russia is not by impressing at an interview, but buy what is known as blat – “connections”. Russian society isn’t much interested in the hard-working, brilliant young business mind. Everyone knows where that type ends up: in jail like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or in exile like the mobile phone billionaire Yevgeny Chichvarkin. ”

        See: http://russianeconomicfreedom.org/tag/peter-pomerantsev/

        • Moscow Exile says:

          That “buy” instead of “by” in the above quote from Pomarantsev’s economic freedom article might simply be a typo or might indicate that Peter is, in fact, a Russian who has fixed himself up with a nice job with the BBC whence he can throw the shit at his mother country.

        • Giuseppe Flavio says:

          I’ve noticed that many (luckily not all) Italian emigrants hold a grudge against Italy, like someone that was abandoned in his childhood by his parents for no reason. Whatever they achieve in the country were they moved (generally a low-middle class status) is seen as a sort of “revenge” for being abandoned. This grudge becomes more acute when they come back to visit their relatives and realise that Italy isn’t anymore the poor hellhole they left after the war. At this point they realise that their revenge is dud, so they react by downplaying everything Italian and blowing out of proportion their achievements or outright inventing them. Probably, something similar happens with Russian emigrants.

      • yalensis says:

        That article is so unfair. Everybody who has met any Italians knows that they are wonderful, caring people. That cruise ship captain is simply an anomaly.

      • The British media has always been dismissive of Italy and this article is no different. It is by the equally dismissive of France. Of the important European states only Germany and Sweden receive grudging respect.

        In the case of Italy I would however say that the view of ordinary Britons is completely different. I have never met a single Briton who has been to Italy who does not love the place and who does not admire Italians for their culture and panache. In fact amongst Britons the image of Italy and of Italians is overwhelmingly positive. One of my lawyer friends gave up her whole career and sold her house to go to live there with her British husband.

        By the way on the subject of Berlusconi, Luke Harding a.k.a. Tintin on the occasion when I recently met him was sounding off about how Berlusconi had been “bought” by Putin and was to all intents and purposes an agent of the Kremlin. Presumably in the fevered imagination of Luke Harding at least Putin is responsible for Italy’s problems as well.

    • Giuseppe Flavio says:

      Speaking of Italy’s image in foreign media, how many of you have heard about the truck drivers strike started in Sicily last week and that is extending to all of Italy now? It’s not just the truck drivers, it involves the fishing industry, taxi drivers, and other categories. The truck drivers are the strongest among the protester, because 86% of goods transport is on truck and they don’t refrain from using their vehicles to make road blocks.

  7. yalensis says:

    “Twitter revolution” – this piece by @antireb was posted last June, during Libya war:

    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/b7govs

    He did some research showing how NATO was using agents on the ground to locate and bomb targets in Libya. In a link within that story @antireb gives many examples of specific tweets and specific Twitter avatars who identified specific targets and coordinates:

    http://storify.com/antireb/list-of-tweets-sent-to-and-used-by-nato-to-bomb-ta

    This jibes with what I was reading on Al Jazeera during Libya war: their Libya Live Blog was full of many pro-Rabble posters who claimed to be using both the AJ blog and Twitter to convey bombing and other logistical information to NATO. All of this was done in the clear, with no encryption.
    Note to Russia: If ever invaded by NATO, try to figure out a way to shut down Twitter. Otherwise hamsters with iPhones will be scurrying everywhere identifying where are heading Russian tank formations, etc. and tweeting that info to NATO bombers.
    Well, NATO thinks they are hot shots because they have this new-fangled internet technology. But it is like invention of long-bow: it gives you temporary advantage, but sooner or later everybody has it.

  8. kievite says:

    A couple of interesting news:

    1. Critics demand high treason trial for Gorbachev and collected funds necessary for starting of the process
    http://rt.com/politics/gorbachev-high-treason-trial-175/

    http://nstarikov.livejournal.com/435693.html

    2. Prokhorov smoked something really strong and declared that he was hungry during his childhood (his father was the head of international department of GlavComSport of this USSR (so a part of nomenklatura); the only thing that might be limited in his house was probably caviar, althouth I doubt even about that) and used to have a dream to get to the place with plentiful food and eat all of it. Which in a sense has happened as he appropriated a lot assets during Yeltsin privatization :-)

    http://ihistorian.livejournal.com/446769.html

    http://roman-n.livejournal.com/3267903.html

    3. Blowback from the meeting of opposition at the embassy.

    http://kot-maslow.livejournal.com/52343.html

    4. Looks like Maria Gaidar might be involved in the auto accident in which a 12-years old girl was killed.

    http://marina-lavrova.livejournal.com/281489.html

  9. yalensis says:

    Tagline: “Makaka and iPhone”
    On her way into U.S. Embassy…
    Girl: “Evgenia, why are you going to visit American ambassador?”
    Chirikova: “I am going to him because we (in Russia) need the rule of law.”
    On her way out of U.S. Embassy…
    WTF! A very feisty Chirikova loses her temper: confronts and almost gets into catfight with the Nashist:

    @kievite is right, all this B.S. is creating a backlash among ordinary Russians (=the silent majority). The more they see how these “podpindosniki” operate, the higher goes Putin’s popularity rating!

    • marknesop says:

      Chirikova: “I am going to him because we (in Russia) need the rule of law.”

      Yes, because everybody knows Russian legal reform is written by the American ambassador. And you want the rule of law except when you decide to hold a demonstration without a permit, so as to draw attention to your right to disregard laws you don’t like as long as you are agitating for adherence to laws you do like.

  10. Moscow Exile says:

    – Evgeniya, tell me, please, why you have come to the US embassy.
    — I’m going so that the law will work. And in the end – *in the end* – it shall work.

    What a cocky, arrogant little traitoress she is!

    Does she really believe that the USA , at her and her associates’ request, could and, indeed, should introduce the rule of law in the Russsian Federation? And if so, how? By fiat? From a foreign state? This is, after all, how the rule of law was introduced in Germany – in 1945 by the allied forces in each of the occupation zones, in which zones the rule of law reflected the custom and practice of the occupying power.

    Does this arrogant woman really believe that her fellow Russian citizens in general want the rule of law, no matter how right and noble that rule might be, imposed upon them by a foreign power?

    Does she really believe that the Russian people are incapable of doing this for themselves, namely the creation of their own “Rechtsstaat” from within, a rule of law that has been created by the people, for the people and not by the representatives of a foreign power, which representatives’ first duty is to promote the interests of their own state, or, more acurately, the ruling class of their own state?

    Does this objectionable woman really have such contempt for her own people that she feels that only she and her grovelling ilk can, with the help of the United States of America, save the Russians from themselves?

    I think she does. I think she and the rest of her traitorous crew hold their own folk in such contempt that they think that they, and only they, know what’s best for their fellow citizens; that apart from themselves, Russian citizens are just so many childish, vulgar dolts that don’t know what is best for themselves.

    I really do hope that the above clip goes viral and that Chirikova and her fellow runners’ contemptuous attitude towards the Russian people at large is revealed to all.

    • She impresses me as an intelligent and attractive young woman who is completely out of her political depth and who has become drunk with excitement at the attention she is getting. Notice how she is constantly photographing everything and everyone on her mobile phone as if she can’t quite believe that all this is happening to her.

      Frankly I think she is a classic case of someone who possibly starts out with genuinely good intentions as in her original environmentalist protests but who is now in well over her head and does not realise the extent to which she is being manipulated by people who are cleverer and more ruthless than she is.

      Incidentally I may be wrong but I get the impression that the self appointed leaders of the radical non system opposition are not only homophobic but also extremely sexist and do not take women at alll seriously, Nemtsov’s spicy comments about Chirikova being a case in point. Not only are the leaders of the non system opposition entirely men but they have shown no interest at all in any of the sort of issues that concern women such as child care, domestic violence etc. Contrast also the likes of Chirikova with Nabuillina the present Economics Minister or Savitskaya amongst the Communists.

      • marknesop says:

        Once again, if I had seen your comment first I would not have submitted one; I can see we are in complete accord on this.

      • yalensis says:

        Perceptive comment, Alexander. And this is where I have to be somewhat critical of my fellow Russians and admit that sexism (and homophobia, which is a variant of sexism) are rampant (and have always been rampant) in Russian culture. In this sense Russians are still somewhat barbaric compared to Western Europeans. But that is changing, and I hope will continue to improve, slowly but surely. Much-maligned USSR deserves a lot of credit for raising status of Russian women (based on core ideology of Marx/Engels, who promoted women’s lib) and also serving as model for Western European social democracies.
        Still, you do see the oppositionists’ complete disdain for women, Nemtsov’s vulgar language about Chirikova, and so on. She does deserve criticism, but not sexual abuse. But, on the other hand, she is clearly in WAY over her head. She is intelligent, attractive woman with a life ahead of her, which she may have thrown away, out of internal anger and external manipulation. The American puppet-masters have flattered her, spun her head around and made her believe she is something that she is not: a political leader equal to Putin. This will probably not end well for her.

    • marknesop says:

      Chirikova is simply full of herself as a result of being catapulted overnight from a marginalized tree-hugging environmentalist to a “major opposition leader” by virtue of the staged hand-holding and eye-gazing making up with Boris Nemtsov on TV following his disparaging remarks about her being made public. RFE/RL rhapsodized about the nobility embodied in “these two attractive young people”, how they could forgive and forget, and get past their differences for the sake of the common good. Naturally this was maddeningly played up in the western press as yet another example of one of Putin’s dirty tricks (hacking Nemtsov’s cell phone) blowing up in his face, and clever, “with it” Russian youth who are “wery good at internet” (figuratively speaking, since it had little to do with the internet) shunting this ossified old fool into the dustbin of history.

      Largely as a result of this barrage of flattery, Chirikova sees herself as very much in the forefront of international affairs, a mover and shaper of future events and a key player in the soon-to-be new look of Russia. The liberals will put up with her for now because it plainly irritates Putin’s supporters, and their constituency is so small that even bringing in the environmentalists will swell it a little.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        “Full of herself” is exactly the term I would use as well to describe Chirikova. Having undergone an amazing metamorphosis from a Khimki Forest tree-hugger to a leading member of “the opposition”, she mockingly grins and smiles at those outside who are photographing her, whilst she responds by taking photographs of them, as though she were saying: “You can do what you like, because I am safe within the confines of the US embassy and you are powerless; so click away, fools!”

        Her attitude changes profoundly and understandably, though, when she is away from the security of the embassy.

        I should like to point out that in response to the question posed to Chirikova as she is about to enter the US embassy, namely: “Evgeniya, tell me please what you have come to the US embassy today for”, she does not reply: “I am going to him because we (in Russia) need the rule of law.” She says: “I am going so that the law will work”. She then finger-waggingly concludes by stressing twice: “And in the end – in the end – it [the law] shall work!” (Я иду для того, чтобы закон работал. И наконец-то, наконец-то, он будет работать.)

        She says nothing of the need for the rule of law in Russia or the Russian people’s need for a rule of law, although this is what she may believe. But in her anger – and she appears to be so at having had what she believes to have been such an impudent question posed to her – she says that there will be law in Russia as a result of her visit.

        So what is she saying? Is she saying that only with the help of the USA will the rule of law be imposed in Russia? Is she saying that she believes that the USA can and will impose the rule of law in Russia at her and her confederates’ request? Is she saying that is what she and her ilk desire, namely that a foreign power intervene in the internal policies of another sovereign state, a sovereign state of which she is also a citizen? Does she believe that with the help of the USA she and her friends can make amendments to the Russian constitution, or rewrite it altogether?

        Why do she and her friends believe that it is right to request off a foreign power that help be given to make changes in the law of the sovereign state that is the Russian Federation? Do not she and her colleagues not realize that their actions smack of treason?

        • yalensis says:

          @Exile: Thanks for correction of my translation about “rule of law” versus “law working”. Either way, I guess it means that Chirikova is expecting Americans to write laws for Russians to live by.
          In her blog (link posted by @kievite above), Chirikova fielded a question relating to her statement that it was okay to “use” America to help overthrow power in Russia. Question posed: was it okay during Great Patriotic War for Russian collaborators to help Nazi invaders? Chirikova replies that she cannot stand in judgement over such collaborators, because they may have had relatives sent to the GULAG, etc.
          Well, tell that to the memory of Nina Kosterina, a teenage Soviet partisan who bravely fought against Nazi invaders (and was killed by them) despite the fact that her father, Alexei Kosterin, was sent by Stalin to GULAG.
          Actually, it is wonderful that Chirikova has a blog and freely unleashes her tongue. The more she writes, the more she damns herself.

  11. Moscow Exile says:

    I think her earlier photographing was more of a case of her getting back at the Nashi members and others who were taking photo and video shots of her and her entourage through the embassy windows that give a view onto the walkway that leads from the security gate to the building entrance. This was reported in newspaper articles concerning the “opposition” visit to the US embassy last Tuesday (January 17th); her snapshots taken through the embassy windows in the direction of those who were photographing her from the street were a kind of tit-for-tat reaction.

    However, after her chinwag with McFaul had taken place, she clearly became somewhat angry and then frightened as she walked with her male companion and, apparently, no one else through a subway whilst being followed by someone with a video camera and, no doubt, several others, who were most probably Nashi members and who very likely taking photographs of her as well. Again, she responded by taking, our pretending to take, photographs of those who were following her. And her anger turned to fear as she hurried away with her companion, whereas earlier, when she felt secure behind the embassy winows, she was laughing and smiling at her tormentors.

    I agree entirely with Alexander’s statement that Chirikova is a person who possibly started out with genuinely good intentions, as were displayed in her original environmentalist protests over the Khimki Forest motorway project, but now she appears to be well out of her depth and is more than likely being manipulated by people who are cleverer and more ruthless than she is without her realising it. I also suspect that her manipulators possibly only consider her role to be that of a young, token female.

    • yalensis says:

      I can even see why she might have felt intimidated when the Nashisti followed her into the subway. Maybe she feared she was going to get a beating, in which case going on the offensive was the correct tactic for her. There is way too much room for violence in all of this. On the other hand, my sympathy for her only goes so far: she not deserve to be beaten or abused; but she IS a traitor, after all, and it is perfectly acceptable to photograph her and document her treasonous activities.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        For sure she had good reason to have been in fear of criminal assault whilst being openly harassed by some people who more than likely may have been members of Nashi and amongst whom there may have probably been more than one hothead of a criminal disposition who strongly objected to her political actions. I do not, however, condone in any way such violence that might have been meeted out to Chirikova during that tense situation that was filmed in the subway after her meeting with McFaul, not least because she is a woman, but chiefly because such an act would have been criminal and would only have served to strengthen this, in my opinion, naively foolish woman’s traitorous behaviour in the eyes of many, and would have served only as yet more grist to the never ceasing anti-Putin propaganda mill of the Western news media.

        Howevever. I should like to point out the criminally violent behaviour that one of Nemtsov’s aides openly perpetrated not so long ago in Moscow as a result of his boss’s harassment by a Nashi youth. (See below.)

        In the video clip, the young man who received a beating, presumably because he had had the temerity to repeatedly press embarassing questions upon Nemtsov, looks as though he were barely six stone wringing wet. Whilst he is being assaulted, Nemtsov nonchalantly continues with his PR exercise signing his books on Pushkin Square. People protest about Nemtsov’s hired thug’s action. The police arrive.

        As far as I am aware, this incident received no press coverage in the West, nor were Nemtsov or his goon charged as a result of this assault, which criminal act, of course, would not have justified any attack that might have been made upon Chirikova in the subway on January 17th, though the Western media constantly portrays Nashi as though that organization were akin to the Hitlerjugend.

        • yalensis says:

          Right. The last thing Putiin’s supporters need is to turn Chirikova into a martyr. So Nashi youth should lay off her. Re. Nemtsov goon video – it somehow got invisible above. I have seen it before, though. Makes you wonder about Nemtsov. Did he notice that the kid was getting beaten up? He could have said something like, ‘”Hey guys, stop hitting him.” Maybe he didn’t notice, though. It is possible to be right in the middle of something and not have a clue what is going on. (Happens to me all the time.) Why police find that eye witness testimony is useless.

  12. kievite says:

    Interesting, “who might benefit” style of analysis. If I remember correctly Saddam Hussein switched currency for oil transcations from dollar to euro a couple of years before being deposed. Iran also no longer uses dollars for oil transactions.

    http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2012/01/09/why-washington-wants-%E2%80%98finito%E2%80%99-with-putin/

    Why Putin?

    The salient question is why Putin at this point? We need not look far for the answer. Washington and especially Barack Obama’s Administration don’t give a hoot about whether Russia is democratic or not. Their concern is the obstacle to Washington’s plans for Full Spectrum Dominance of the planet that a Putin Presidency will represent. According to the Russian Constitution, the President of the Russian Federation head of state, supreme commander-in-chief and holder of the highest office in the Russian Federation. He will take direct control of defense and foreign policy.

    We must ask what policy? Clearly strong countermeasures against the blatant NATO encirclement of Russia with Washington’s dangerous ballistic missile installations around Russia will be high on Putin’s agenda. Hillary Clinton’s “reset” will be in the dustbin if it is not already. We can also expect a more aggressive use of Russia’s energy card with pipeline diplomacy to deepen economic ties between European NATO members such as Germany, France and Italy, ultimately weakening the EU support for aggressive NATO measures against Russia. We can expect a deepening of Russia’s turn towards Eurasia, especially with China, Iran and perhaps India to firm up the shaky spine of resistance to Washington’s New World Order plans.

    It will take more than a few demonstrations in sub-freezing weather in Moscow and St. Petersburg by a gaggle of corrupt or shady opposition figures such as Nemtsov or Kasparov to derail Russia. What is clear is that Washington is pushing on all fronts—Iran and Syria, where Russia has a vital naval port, on China, now on Russia, and on the Eurozone countries led by Germany. It has the smell of an end-game attempt by a declining superpower.

    The United States today is a de facto bankrupt nuclear superpower. The reserve currency role of the dollar is being challenged as never since Bretton Woods in 1944. That role along with maintaining the United States as the world’s unchallenged military power have been the basis of the American Century hegemony since 1945.

    Weakening the role of the dollar in international trade and ultimately as reserve currency, China is now settling trade with Japan in bilateral currencies, side-stepping the dollar. Russia is implementing similar steps with her major trade partners. The primary reason Washington launched a full-scale currency war against the Euro in late 2009 was to preempt a growing threat that China and others would turn away from the dollar to the Euro as reserve currency. That is no small matter. In effect Washington finances its foreign wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and elsewhere through the fact that China and other trade surplus nations invest their surplus trade dollars in US government Treasury debt. Were that to shift significantly, US interest rates would rise substantially and the financial pressures on Washington would become immense.

    Faced with growing erosion of her unchallenged global status as sole superpower, Washington appears now to be turning increasingly to raw military force to hold that. For that to succeed Russia must be neutralized along with China and Iran. This will be the prime agenda of whoever is next US President.

    • yalensis says:

      Sidebar on possible war American attack against Iran:
      American navy has announced they will use trained dolphins to clear the Straight of Hormuz in the event the Iranians shut it down with mines.
      I want to stipulate that I am a HUGE animal lover, and even believe in animal rights, to a certain degree. And, let’s admit it, dolphins are the cutest little critters that god ever created.
      Having said that, here is my advice to Iran: If you are faced with hostile dolphins and you need to find a way to fight them… Hint: dolphins, like whales, can be disabled by powerful blasts of sonar, for example from submarines. Excessive sonar disrupts their internal organs and causes them to beach themselves.

  13. kievite says:

    Chirikova political platform:

    http://jenya-khimles.livejournal.com/67800.html

    Looks like she is really extremly naive girl…

    • yalensis says:

      One blog commenter asks Chirikova the usual question, what was she doing at American Embassy and what did she mean by her remark that she was “using” Americans in the cause of Russian ecological concerns?
      Chirikova replies (Jan. 20, 8:19 UTC) that the meeting with McFaul was all normal, routine, and then posts the following extremely damning link as further clarification:

      The (ecological activist) also commented [to McFaul] that since Putin is from the KGB, then it is not possible to compromise with him, he will never concede (anything) and only respects force. “So the USA should exert their force and help us,” said Chirikova. They should pass the Magnitsky law….” (etc.)

      In the course of the blog, and in response to commenters, Chirikova lays out her political platform, such as it is: she proposes forcible removal of Putin (with American help, if necessary), the break-up of Russian Federation into loose confederation of republics with local rule, transfer of capital from Moscow to Urals, kick Chechnya out of Federation. This is the only possible way to save the Khimki Forest! No surprise that McFaul is extremely interested in her ideas. ‘Cause he really care a lot about the Khimki Forest. Keeps him up at night.

      • Moscow Exile says:

        From The Moscow News (20-23 Jan 2012):

        “When asked about the meeting [with McFaul] being used against them, the activists downplayed the seriousness of the rhetoric.

        ‘They are paranoid and sick’, Boris Nemtsov told The Moscow News. ‘What’s the problem? It’s a normal meeting. I’ve known McFaul for a long time. Those people who went to [opposition rallies on] Bolotnaya Square and Prospect Sakharova are smart enough to understand.’

        Kanayev [president of the Russian Federation of Car Owners] distanced himself from the political opposition, insisting that he came to the meeting as a public activist, not a political one.

        ‘I don’t think that America will save Russia’, Kanayev said. ‘I think the intention of the ambassador to meet with civil society is a good thing. Putin didn’t invite us. The ambassador did.’

        In contrast, Yevgania Chirikova did not deny that she was seeking U.S. help – and complained to McFaul that people were insulted that Putin had alleged they had been paid to go to rallies.

        Asked whether she was concerned the meeting could be misinterpreted and used to discredit her movement, she said she was not.

        ‘I came to talk about the situation in Russia and about the importance of [the U.S.] adopting the Magintsky Act’, Chirikova told The Moscow News, referring to a bill named after the Hermitage lawyer Sergei Magintsky, who died in pre-trial detention in 2009. ‘I said it was important to stop corruption. The act will make it possible to freeze assets of corrupt officials abroad…who steal our country’s resources.’

        Chirikova had also Tweeted on Tuesday that ‘if it’s possible to use America in the fight against…Putin, who are stealing our country’s resources, then it needs to be done!’

        Chirikova explained that this referred to her support of the Magintsky Act, which ‘could serve as log (sic) to beat our corrupt officials with’.”

        • marknesop says:

          Is Chirikova aware of who the individuals are who are on the Magnitsky List? Does she somehow think everyone in Russia who is involved with corruption is on it? It is everyone who can be connected – however remotely – with Magnitsky’s death, as well as their spouses and children. Developers and construction companies who wanted to ram a road through the Khimki Forest had nothing to do with Magnitsky’s death. People who pocket the money intended to fix crumbling infrastructure? Not on it. Inspectors who will not pass completed projects until they get a little sugar from the builder? Not on it. Virtually nobody who Chirikova could name off the top of her head as corrupt is actually on the Magnitsky list, so freezing of corrupt officials’ wealth abroad is not going to be broadly effective if it depends on the Magnitskty List.

          But the western press doubtless loves her grandstanding, recognizing it for the political model we all know and love.

    • kievite says:

      It was me who was naive. She is really like Nemstov aply said ” mraz’ “:

      • yalensis says:

        Yeah, I have been out of touch too, I have been so focused on Navalny, and all this time I thought Chirikova was just some simple peasant girl living under a tree in the enchanted forest, whose recent meeting with Svengali McFaul launched her into overnight stardom. Turns out she has been a busy little beaver this past year and while nobody was noticing, Americans have been slying grooming her to be leader of whole Opposition, replacing Boris Nemtsov. (I think the day will come when we will all miss Boris!)
        Last April Chirikova travelled to Brussels to make her pitch to EU leaders:

        http://www.werner-schulz-europa.eu/englisch/48-englisch/332-young-russian-leaders-in-brussels-forqeducatioal-marathonq-.html

        Then in September she travelled to USA to meet with a group of U.S. Senators (I have not been able to find out which ones, although I assume McCain is among them) and hand over a “black list” of 20 Russian officials (including Putin) whom she wants to ban from travel to USA.

        http://www.khimkiforest.org/news/chirikova-hands-over-black-list-khimki-forest-defenders-us-senators

        Here are the 20 unlucky officials who got themselves onto Chirikova’s shitlist:

        http://ecmo.ru/news/n-2289/

        If and when Putin is elected Prez of Russia, this travel ban could become awkward. I mean, he will need to travel to U.S. occasionally, if only to attend UN meetings. Otherwise, next American President Mitt Romney will be forced to travel to Europe to meet Putin on neutral ground.

        • Moscow Exile says:

          Chirikova:
          “But it so happened that we went from the struggle to save a forest to a fight against power system that exists in Russia. For example, we had to put together and send to the U.S. a list of bureaucrats who, we think, betrayed public interests. The list includes people ranging from Russia’s prime minister to the deputy head of Khimki’s police department…

          “The Russian people in many ways are like cattle. They would tolerate anything. We don’t expect fair play from the government, but we surely did not expect the hoax that the “tandem” pulled off on September 9, 2011 (on that date President Medvedev announced that he will not run for president and that he recommends the ruling party to nominate Vladimir Putin)…

          “I simply don’t see any future for me and my daughters in Russia, unless we manage to change things around. I will leave if I have to, but many of my friends will have to stay and to see how this great country is falling apart.

          “We are grateful for the support from the international community and from the U.S. We discussed our efforts to fight the corrupt system and develop civil society with the Vice President Joseph Biden and with the deputy secretary on human rights Michael Posner. I hope that we’ll be able to take a stroll in the Khimki forest in the years to come.”

          During his official visit to Russia, Vice President Joe Biden awarded Evegenia Chirikova with the Woman of Courage award.

          See: http://readrussia.com/blog/politics/00343/

          The site is called “Russia!”. It describes itself thus:

          RUSSIA! is the only publication of its kind: an independent magazine devoted entirely to Russia-related topics. With strong reporting, cutting-edge Russian graphic design and a healthy dose of sarcasm, RUSSIA! offers the most original coverage of the people, trends, ideas and events that shape this fascinating and perplexing country.

          The site address is: USA, P.O. Box 651, New York, NY 10276,

          • Dear Yalensis,

            I think your original emphasis on Navalny is absolutely right. He is a far more dangerous person than Chirikova. His emphasis on corruption and his nationalism are politically speaking immeasurably more astute than Chirikova’s ludicrously over the top pro Americanism.

            To my mind all the information that Moscow Exile, Kievite and you have obtained about Chirikova simply shows how politically immature and out of touch she is. If she had simply said that her visit to the embassy was a routine courtesy call to which she had been invited by the US ambassador the matter would have ended there. Instead she is working hard to increase the importance of the visit in a way that can only do her and the non system opposition damage.

            Calling the Russian people “cattle” and blatantly supporting the US over her own country is scarcely going to win her much support. Openly bragging about how the US is going to help her overthrow the government is plain silly. Talking about how she will leave the country if things don’t change in the way she wants them to simply underlines her own lack of patriotism and commitment to her own country. Demanding the country’s political fragmentation into some sort of confederation simply calls up memories of the USSR’s collapse and is for Putin a political gift. As for the nonsense she said outside the embassy about the rule of law, it looked to me like she was simply saying the first thing that came into her head.

            Overall Chirikova simply does not impress me as a serious politician. Frankly I get the impression that all the attention and flattery she is getting from the US has simply turned her head. From the US point of view she is doubtless a useful idiot they can put in front of the cameras when they want to impress visiting western journalists. For the rest of the non system opposition as Nemtsov’s salty comments about her show she is fast becoming an embarrassment.

            PS: I don’t think that there was ever any possibility of a physical assault on Chirikova outside the embassy or even a ghost of a threat of such an assault. The visit of the opposition leaders to the embassy was bound to attract photographers. Chirikova’s attention grabbing behaviour shows that she has no idea how to handle such attention. I stick to my original view that it simply shows how the attention she is getting has gone to her head. Her excited photographing of all and sundry and her taunting and laughing at pople from inside the embassy was the one certain way to provoke more attention. Her haranguing of the photographers as she left the embassy instead of silently walking away from them provoked more attention still. The person who followed her into the underground passage was not threatening her but was filming her. This can be intrusive but it is the price one pays for becoming a public figure. Her decision to confront this person instead of simply walking away from him unnecessarily dramatised the incident and gave the impression to me at least that the only threat of physical aggression was coming from her.

            • yalensis says:

              Thanks, @alexander, very good points.
              Two comments:
              (1) I don’t know if the photographers following Chirikova into the subway were Nashi members or not. If so, she may have felt intimidated, because Nashisti have a reputation (don’t know if deserved or not) for beating up political opponents. Plus, the Opposition are always harping on “bloody Putin” and how he kills off his opponents. Politkovskaya murdered; savage beating of Kashin; and so on. Based on this, she may well have felt a rush of fear. Her body language in the video seems to indicate that her veins were suddenly flooded with adrenaline. Fight or flight. She decides to fight. In most cases, when confronting bullies, this is actually the correct choice. (Not saying the photographers were bullies, but she seems to think they are.) You are right, her fear was probably unwarranted. The photographers are trying to talk to her, they seem fairly calm, not threatening or swearing at her. And her male escort does not seem overly intimidated, at one point he tries to calm her down and says something like, “We should engage them in dialogue,” to which she replies angrily: “WHAT dialogue? There can be no dialogue (with such types)!”
              (2) In googling Chirikova’s latest exploits, I discovered that she recently vacationed in the Philippines. I am seeing a pattern: Navalny vacations in Spain and Mexico; Chirikova in the Phillipines. All Spanish-speaking countries. Mark thinks it is just because you can get a good deal for tourism in these countries. Maybe. But I am still suspecting that she and Navalny share an American CIA handler who is mostly likely Hispanic and fits in well in these countries!

          • marknesop says:

            Yup. Referring to your fellow citizens as “cattle who will tolerate anything” is a sure path to political stardom. Keep workin’ it, Sistah!

        • marknesop says:

          You ruined a fairly logical progression by suggesting Mitt Romney is going to be the next president. Mitt Romney is as unelectable as John Ashcroft, who once lost to a dead man. Every other candidate for the Republican nomination has enjoyed a surge in popularity that is predicated on Romney’s unpopularity. I am quite sure he will be the nominee, but if Obama couldn’t beat Mitt Romney, the Republican party could put up Doku Umarov and win.

          Chirikova has been busy, all right, but she bases her entire political methodology on telling the west what it wants to hear. That’s all very well for ingratiating herself with the west, and it will work – but she has even less credibility with the Russian electorate than Nemtsov, who reliably fails to meet the threshold for gaining a seat in the Duma. I’ve often said rejecting PARNAS’s bid for running was a big mistake – they should have been allowed to run and been annihilated, like they always are. Then all they’d have to fall back on would be the usual bleating about being denied a level playing field and access to free advertising.

          • Moscow Exile says:

            To digress a little from Chirikova, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the man that invited her and others to have a chat at the US embassy, namely the US ambassador, Michael McFaul, as the British Daily Telegraph and Independent have today belatedly latched onto Russian criticism of the ambassador’s interest in “the opposition”.

            Mr. McFaul wrote a book in 2002 entitled “Russia’s Unfinished Revolution”. This book was scathingly reviewed in that year by the now long defunct Moscow Exile. Here is that review as published in the online The Exiled. It makes, I think, interesting reading concerning Mr. McFaul’s opinion of Russian politics.

            See: http://exiledonline.com/mikey-mcfaul-and-the-three-bears-a-review-of-russias-unfinished-revolution/

            • marknesop says:

              It is a point of endless curiosity to me how an entire genre of political enablers can so aggressively defend Yeltsin as the Great Democratizer; Russia’s last, best chance for western-style reforms. Oh, he was that, all right – but I mean how a genre can defend it as a missed opportunity rather than the dodging of a bullet that it was.

              When the shaky interim coalition took over and proclaimed itself the legitimate rule in Russia, the KGB immediately began a number of investigations of the dodgy accumulation of wealth as well as the foreign associations of some of the oligarchs. Since it only held together a couple of days, all those investigations were dropped when Yeltsin took up the reins again. Who knows now who might have been still trading cigarettes for glimpses of sunlight in prison instead of inveigling against the Russian government from abroad as multimillionaires had Yeltsin failed to resume power, and those investigations been pursued to their conclusion.

              McFaul appears here as an idiot savant (I laughed at the line about his canine cunning making up for his canine intellect), but I’m convinced it would be a mistake to underestimate him as only a well-placed sycophant. He appears to have learned a lot since 2002. However, I’d be skeptical of any claim that his intentions and interests vis-a-vis Russia had changed at all. I believe his position in Russia is predicated on a desire to forestall its success in achieving its goals and to place such stumbling blocks in its way as can reasonably be effected.

              It could be worse. It could be John Bolton. But that would only be worse as a matter of degree. McFaul is much better at the spread hands, “who; me?” look of wide-eyed innocence than Bolton would be.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                The Moscow Times reports today that Golos is to be evicted from its Moscow office. See:

                http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/golos-ordered-out-of-offices/451603.html

                The Quatar Times has reported in the same Golos eviction story that: “The agency [Golos] accepts Western grants, but does so openly. Shibanova also had her laptop confiscated in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, and the Central Election Commission fined the watchdog 30,000 rubles for gathering information on violations five days ahead of the parliamentary elections, though it refrained from taking stricter actions.

                “Golos became the subject of a prime-time smear documentary and drew the ire of Putin who lashed out at Western attempts to “influence the course of the election campaign” through Russian NGOs”.

                See: http://www.qatar-tribune.com/data/20120125/content.asp?section=world1_3

                And yesterday the BBC had a report about “Russia’s only independent election monitoring organization” being evicted from their Moscow offices (and we all know who is responsible – wink, wink!)

                RIA Novosti reported that “Several Kremlin-linked media outlets, including NTV television channel and governmental newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, accused Golos ahead of the Duma vote of being a subversive agent of Western powers”.

                See: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120124/170928520.html

                Here is the NTV “prime-time smear documentary” as mentioned above by The Quatar Tribune:

                Note the “likes” and “dislikes” at the bottom right of the video of the NTV pprogramme, yet there are only two comments.

                I presume the “dislikes” are the result of knee-jerk reaction of russophobes worldwide who believe it’s all “commie propaganda”.

                And dear old “Auntie BBC” maintains that Golos is “independent”.

                • yalensis says:

                  My dear Uncle Vanya has a talking parrot, unfortunately all he knows how to say is:

                  “вы сурковская пропаганда!”
                  “Squawk!”

          • Moscow Exile says:

            Here she is again, same place last Tuesday. Definitely full of herself. She’s so conceited that she chooses to address those who are questioning her in the subway (in the previous shorter version of this clip shown above) with the familiar, or, as the case may be, derogatory familiar second person singular pronoun “ty” (ты). Chirikova is only 34, and in any case, from this clip it can be seen that she was not addressing children with the familiar “ty”; the person asking the questions in the clip is a young woman, but not a child. There are no hordes of Nashi juveniles to be seeen anywhere either. Chirikova was, therefore, “talking down” to her interlocutors when asking them “Как тебя зовут?” (Kak tebya zovut?) – “What’s your name?” And she and her fellow traitorous подпиндосники have all clearly been well trained in that they all repeat “This is is Surkovsky propaganda! This is Surkovsky propaganda!” as does the Golos lickspittle ad nauseam in the NTV “smear broadcast” (shown below) on that “independent” organization.

            • Giuseppe Flavio says:

              Dear Moscow Exile,
              sorry, but I have an OT question about the formal and familiar way of addressing someone in Russian. The second singular person is the familiar way as you say, so which is the formal way? Is it perhaps the third singular person or the second plural one? I’m asking because in Italian the second singular person (“tu” for short) is used in the same way, while the third singular person (with the female genre) (“lei”) and the second plural one (“voi”) are used in formal language. The latter (“voi”) is the older form.

              • Moscow Exile says:

                Formal – “vy” (вы), which is “you” in English, “Sie” in German and “vous” in French.

                That’s what one uses when speaking with respect to older people, or to one’s “social superiors”, bosses, cops, strangers etc. It is the 2nd person singular pronoun (nominative). The accusative is “vas” (вас), the dative – “vam” (вам), and the instrumental – “vami” (вами).

                The 2nd person singular (nominative) is “ty” (ты), which is “thou” (archaic or dialect or when addressing god in prayers) in English, “du” in German and “tu” in French. The accusative is tebya (тебя), the dative tebye (тебе) and the instrumental toboi (тобой).

                One uses the 2nd person singular, as in Italian, I should think, and in German, French with family, friends, children, animals (horses, dogs, cats etc). If one uses it with none of these categories, one is being rude, cheeky, presumptious or mocking.

                Chirikova did not politely say “Kak vas zovut?” (Как вас зовут) to the person or persons following her in the underpass, but used the informal “tebya” (тебя), as though she were talking to a kid, and she wasn’t: she was addressing an adult stranger who was with an NTV camera crew and sound man amongst others, and who was asking her politely about the purpose of her visit to the US Embassy.

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  ERROR!

                  I wrote above: “It [vy] is the 2nd person singular pronoun (nominative). The accusative is “vas” (вас), the dative – “vam” (вам), and the instrumental – “vami” (вами).”

                  I should, of course, have written “It is the second person PLURAL personal pronoun (nominative).”

                  I should go to bed. It’s midnight here in Moscow and I’ve had a long day.

                  Спокойной ночи!

                • Giuseppe Flavio says:

                  Many thanks, and Good Night!

                • yalensis says:

                  Addendum: If you meet an (adult) stranger in Russia, you address them as “вы” (polite “you”). If you start to feel more friendly (maybe after a glass of vodka), you might request permission to switch to the more intimate “ты” by politely asking “можно на ты?” (May I address you as “ty”?)
                  Historical note: during Russian Revolution of 1905, one of the demands of the working class was that their bosses at the factory start to address them in the polite “vy” instead of “ty”. As Aretha Franklin would say: It’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

                • Dear Yalensis,

                  At the time the Tsar abdicated in March Lenin was in exile in Zurich trying to run the Bolshevik party from there. Trotsky was in the US. He had despaired of revolution in Russia and was planning to emigrate to the US. Stalin was in prison in a camp in Siberia. All three returned to Petrograd as quickly as they could. Stalin got there first and led the Bolshevik party in Petrograd until Lenin arrived in April. Lenin had to do a deal with the German government with which Russia was at war to travel across Germany in a sealed train in order to get to Russia. Trotsky got back a little later. From the moment Lenin got back in April the Bolsheviks under his leadership worked round the clock for the Soviets to gain power, which they did following the revolution in October. The idea of any of them going on holiday during this period would have struck them as absurd. Whatever else they were they were serious people and genuine revolutionaries unlike the present lot who claim to be leading a popular protest movement but actually are merely acting the part.

                  It is excellent that you travel a lot. So do I and I greatly enjoy it. But then neither of us says we want to overthrow the constitution and governments of our respective countries or claims that those governments are corrupt tyrannies that oppress the people or say that we want to be the future leaders of our countries as Navalny and Chirikova do.

              • Dear Moscow Exile,

                Thanks for a very interesting video clip.

                Contrast the far more composed behaviour of the experienced politicians like Nemtsov with that of Chirikova and the person from Golos.

                As for the refrain about “Surkov propaganda”, it is provocative and insultiing towards people who were doing no more than taking photographs of a public event and asking a few questions and making a few comments, which they have a perfect right to do. Not only does this sort of thing unnecessarily raise the temperature but it sounds rehearsed and rude, Before long it will start to grate and people will become irritated by it.

                Just a few things:

                1. Since Golos receives money from the US government it is not an “independent monitoring agency”, It is an agency that is funded at least in part by the US government, On the principle that he who pays the piper calls the tune that makes Golos unless to say or do something that is contrary to the wishes of the US government, which is one of its funders. Golos cannot therefore be called an “independent agency”.

                2. Whether or not Navalny or Chirikova holiday abroad in far away places like Mexico and the Philippines in order to get instructions from their controller I do not know. Actually I rather doubt it. What I can say is that it must create a disastrous impression especially when done in the midst of an election campaign. Inevitably it will make many people wonder where they get their money for these sort of holidays, which are still far beyond the reach of most Russians. It is not after all as if Russia lacks holiday destinations. Serious politicians like Putin, Zyuganov and yes Medvedev are careful to take their New Year breaks in Russia.

                Taking foreign holdays at this time must also look absurdly frivolous and self indulgent to most people. Chirikova and Navalny are supposed to be trying to overthrow the government. What sort of revolutionaries are they that in the middle of the revolution decide to go abroad on holiday? Did Lenin and Trotsky and Stalin go on holiday abroad whilst planning the October Revolution?

                • yalensis says:

                  Er… actually… I think Lenin was living in exile at the time in Germany and Trotsky in Switzerland. Or vice versa. In any case, I could care less if Navalny/Chirikova spent their holidays eating caviar in the most expensive resort in the Riviera. I have no right to judge them for their holidays, because I travel a lot myself and take expensive ski vacations at various resorts. I only judge them if they are meeting with CIA handler, which I suspect they are!

                • Moscow Exile says:

                  http://pics.livejournal.com/tih0n/pic/00031sh6

                  More on the traitorous actions of some “oppositionists”:

                  http://tih0n.livejournal.com/43200.html

                  For the benefit of those with a limited command of Russian, my translation:

                  “We shall be helped abroad” or the history of the opposition’s love for America.
                  I have decided to have a think about other people’s money and their dangerous contacts!

                  Yesterday , some members of the opposition, amongst whom were Boris Nemtsov, Yevgenaya Chirikova, Sergei Mitrokhin, Oksana Dmitrieva and Lev Ponomaryov, for some reason or other “went on an excursion” to the United States Embassy. I should remind you that the new American Ambassador Michael McFaul, who is considered by Barak Obama’s administration to be an expert on Russia as well as on “orange revolutions”, had only the day before begun to work in Moscow. Do you think this case is unprecedented? No, precedents there are. The fact is that this is not the first time that our opposition has demonstrated its warm feelings towards the American Government

                  Yevgeniya Chirikova
                  In March 2011 she met United States Vice President Joseph Biden, who handed her an award “For Bravery”, established by the State Department of the United States – http://ria.ru/society/20110310/344552751.html. A fortuitous occasion? Did they really want to reward a plucky woman? You might have thought so if this had happened only once.

                  On 14 September of last year, Chirikova went to Washington in order to take a “black list” of Russian politicians and officials there. Yevgeniya explained herself thus:

                  “What have they done to you, my Motherland, that in order to protect you I have to go “there “…” (http://jenya-khimles.livejournal.com/36256.html)*

                  What expressiveness! However, such lyricism can only deceive fools. In order to understand this, it is only necessary to answer two simple questions: first – whose interests take priority for the United States – their own or those of Russia, which country, incidentally, is not the only player on the international stage (and it also follows that it is a competitor of the United States); second – if the people on the “black lists” are traitors to the national interests of Russia, why set up the United States against them? It would be more logical the other way round, wouldn’t it, that the “traitors” received support from the United States.

                  Boris Nemtsov
                  Boris Nemtsov, has had regular meetings with U.S. officials. He met Bill Clinton (as much as 4 times), former Vice-President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice (former Head of the Department of State), John McCain (who threatened a Russian “Arab spring”), Michael McFaul (who is the current U.S. Ambassador and “Russian specialist”). And these are only those meetings that we know of. How many meetings there have been and about which nothing is known, one can only guess.

                  The “solidarity” movement, co-chaired by Nemtsov, is funded from the United States by “The National Fund for Democracy , which gets its money directly from the United States budget and distributes grants and in particular sponsors of Arab youth. Its purpose is stated explicitly: the maintenance of opposition activities in Russia. Here is the document :

                  http://pics.livejournal.com/tih0n/pic/00032hbd/s640x480

                  In 2008, Nemtsov ran for Mayor of Sochi with the financial support of an NFD “subsidiary”, “THE INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE” (the IRI, the head of which, incidentally, is the odious John McCain). It supported Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov in 2009, when they moved to the Moscow city Duma.

                  Of course, American funds will not be simply distributed just like that. From Nemtsov they are surely demanding services in response. How, exactly, one can only guess, but a hint may be given by a Conference held in November 2010 and called “How to restore America’s leadership in the modern world” (or whatever), in which Nemtsov presented a report. The moderator was Dan Senor, a person involved in the American occupation of Iraq. In addition, Joe Lieberman, author of the phrase “the new Russian threat”, was announced to have been among the participants.

                  In addition, WikiLeaks has published a transcript of a telegram from the former American Ambassador in Moscow, in which he informed his superiors that Boris Nemtsov and another oppositionist, Vladimir Milov, had agreed “the purpose of the political opposition in the next two years should be work to prevent the return of Vladimir Putin to the Presidency. But, according to their opinion, his overthrow could lead only to an emergency situation”. So there you have it: their goal is to establish of an emergency situation.

                  Alexey Navalny
                  Alexey Navalny has been noted for having contacts with the United States and for being a notorious blogger and “anti-corruption activist”. One should be reminded that in 2009, he was invited to Yale University. He got a $ 32,000 per term grant for that, by the way:

                  (http://www.yale.edu/worldfellows/about_goals.html).

                  What did he give in return? Do you know many people who are invited to Yale for nothing?

                  The secret answer to this question might be revealed by Navalny’s personal correspondence. His post, hacked in 2011 by “Hacker Hell”, will surely tell. Here’s a screenshot of a letter in which Navalny apologizes for the delay in a financial report to an officer of the “National Fund for Democracy ” (the same NFD that funds Nemtsov). Enclosed are some more than interesting files of financial reports, where Navalny reports to the Fund about money (a grant) that had been invested invested in political debates. There is an Excel-document included that refers to an amount of $23000.

                  http://pics.livejournal.com/tih0n/pic/0003317c/s640x480

                  (Translation of email:

                  Good Day, Frank.
                  Maria passed on your letter to me, where you talk about not having received from us any final statements.
                  Some kind of mistake has taken place. We are totally convinced that they were sent out. Or it might be my fault. I should have kept an eye on the receipts.
                  I ask for your forgiveness and shall send you the statements again.
                  I hope we haven’t greatly let you down.
                  I hope Maria won’t be arrested for this [letter now partly obstructed] and that she won’t be sent to Guantanamo [letter now partly obstructed] ….)

                  There is nothing to comment about: it all speaks for itself. There is also some Navalny correspondence with Ilya Yashin, where the former boasts of having started to co-operate with people from an American Government Commission, and thanks him for the “useful contact “:

                  (http://eugenyshultz.livejournal.com/187930.html).

                  In August 2008, an officer of the American Embassy met Alexy Navalny and his lawyer Alexander Glushenkov. After the meeting, the American compared Navalny with Don Quixote (who, incidentally, pushed his idealism towards the verge of the idiocy in his tilting against windmills) and advised that he be invited to take notes at the next meeting of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. This organization was established in 2002 on the proposal of the former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Some experts have explicitly referred to this organization as a tool of the United States and the EU in order to take control of the resources of developing :

                  (http://kp.ru/daily/25684/889506).

                  *Translation of Chirikova’s tear-jerking letter that appeared on her website, explaining why she had gone to the USA:

                  “If you’re reading this post, it means that I have safely gone through passport control and am sitting on board a Boeing which is about to take me to America, the country that since my childhood I had been taught to consider as an enemy. But later, when the enemy suddenly became a friend, I never believed that ‘foreign countries would help us and that we would not be abandoned by the West’. What have they done to you, my Motherland, that in order to defend you I have to go ‘there’?

                  I’m going to Washington and New York and am taking with me blacklists of traitors to Russian public interests. A meeting with US senators has been scheduled for us and my goal is to refer them to the lists and ensure that officials from the list receive a ban from entering America and a ban on the use of their foreign accounts, which have been basically created from the same source: the sales of my country’s resources.

                  This spring the Khimki Forest Movement in conjunction with Bankwatch was able to establish and prove the existence of a corrupt offshore scheme put together by Vinci, the company responsible for the Moscow-St. Petersburg motorway project:

                  http://ecmo.ru/data/Jul2011/Vinci_a_cover_for_oligarchs_ru.pdf?drgn=1

                  Using a network of subsidiaries, Vinci created a scheme for transferring to offshore havens monies from the Russian federal project. One of these firms belongs to Arkady Rotenberg, a close friend of Prime Minister Putin. We passed on the information about this matter to the FSB, but received no response. I don’t like how the company Vinci treats my country as a colony, taking advantage of the fact that the people in power do not link their future with our country and in our country. There are no longer any government bodies able to fight for the interests of Russian citizens. The company Vinci would not have been possible in any civilized country where the government really cares about the national interest.

                  Insofar as the company Vinci is integrated into the international economy and one of the structures of the United Nations plays a role in international stock exchanges, I hope that information on Vinci activities in Russia will be of interest to the international community”.

                  Chirikova Tweeted after her cosying up to McFaul in Moscow:

                  Если можно использовать Америку в борьбе против режима ПЖиВ и Путина, разграблающих природные ресурсы нашей страны это надо делать!

                  (If it is possible to use America in the struggle against the “Party of Scoundrels and Thieves” and Putin, who are stealing the natural resources of our country, then it is necessary to do so.)

                  In response to this traitorous Tweet, a certain Lev Shcharansky wrote on Chirikovsky’s site:

                  “Рукопожимаю. Наконец-то появился достойный наследник генерала Власова. Что нельзя не одобрить”.

                  (I shake your hand. At last somebody has appeared as a worthy successor to General Vlasov. That can’t be denied.”

                  Pity that Sts Peter and Paul Fortress is now a museum!

                  Общественный активист Лев Щаранский написал Чириковой: “Рукопожимаю. Наконец-то появился достойный наследник генерала Власова. Что нельзя не одобрить”.

  14. yalensis says:

    RT exposes Al Jazeera as CIA propaganda tool:

  15. kievite says:

    Amazing fact of the level of penetration of liberasts in the existing government: Russia does not check if a person who is appointed to some important public body has foreign citizenship or not.

    More and more it looks like the government under Medvedev (which includes Putin as a prime minister ;-) is playing some complex game which is a derivative of classic Russian checker game “poddavki”.

    Arkady Mamontov published documents proving that the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alekseeva has obligations to the UK (due to large grants received) and to the United States (she is a citizen of this country). The Interior Ministry has already sent a request to the requirement to explain how a person who is a member of “Public counsel” of this ministry turned out to be a U.S. citizen. http://vz.ru/politics/2012/1/23/555687.html

    • Dear Kievite,

      On the subject of Lyudmila Alekseeva it appears that the British secret service (MI6) official who was involved in the artificial rock incident in 2006 may actually have been funnelling money to her.

  16. cartman says:

    Re: Yavlinsky

    Since he is Ukrainian (from Lviv no less) what would happen if his citizenship was stripped away before the election? Keep in mind this is exactly what Mikheil Saakashvili did to his toughest challenger.

    • Dear Cartman,

      I seem to recall that at the start of the parliamentary election campaign Yavlinsky said that he would stand for the Presidency IF Yabloko gained enough votes to qualify for the parliament.

      In the event Yabloko did not gain enough votes to qualify for the parliament and this would apparently have been the case even if the results were changed by as much as 15% as a result of fraud. As I understand it the most widely touted mathematical calculation cited by the opposition suggests that if there was 15% fraud then Yabloko’s vote would merely have increased from 3% to 4%, which would still have been too low to enter the parliament even if the threshold had been brought down to 5%.

      Notwithstanding this failure of Yabloko to get into the parliament Yavlinsky apparently now wants to stand for the Presidency. Presumably he changed his mind following the protests. Could this very late change in mind be the reason why Yabloko did not organise a proper signature collecting campaign so that many of the signatures it submitted were fake? I say this because I have no doubt that the Central Electoral Commission is telling the truth and that many of the signatures are fake. Given that the signatures are available for outside parties to check if all the signatures are genuine Yavlinsky’s campaign should have no difficulty proving this fact, which of course it has not.

  17. yalensis says:

    “Please, Grandfather McFaul, I am just a poor, sweet-faced Russian maiden trying to save this forest from the evil forces of Putin-BabaYaga… Please wave your magic wand and help me….”

  18. yalensis says:

    Civil war in Libya: Pro-Gaddafy forces (=Green Resistance Movement) seize Bani-Walid. NTC (=NATO/AlQaeda) puppet government in disarray:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2091144/Libya-Gaddafis-green-flag-raised-Bani-Walid-bloody-uprising.html#ixzz1kP7ndHrw

    Meanwhile, there are persistent reports of 12,000 NATO troops (mostly Americans) disembarking in Libya via Malta. Is possible they are not there for Libya, however, but just staging ground on their way to Iran invasion. Is big secret, nobody knows for sure.

  19. kievite says:

    It is pretty funny too see how the person responsible for Yeltsin privatization and resulting creation of the class of criminal oligarchs now is waving the flag of “fighting with corruption”:

    Mr. Ryzhvov first came to public attention in 1993 as a State Duma member of Russia’s Choice; a party headed by Yegor Gaidar. The principal architect of the Yeltsin-era “shock therapy” and widespread privatizations that left huge sectors of state assets in the hands of a few fabulously wealthy individuals

    Here is a unique opportunity too see him in in a new skin of fighter for “honest elections” — in debate with this opponents.

    A couple of places are revealing about Ryzhkov personality and liberasts in general. Unfortunately this was far from a civil, academic style debates, there was a lot of shouting and Kurginyan was a little bit hysterical.

    I like the comment of Egor Kholmogorov who stated that the current situation has three major components (see also his http://www.rus-obr.ru/lj/15939)

    1. Elements of foreign intelligence operation against exiting Russian government component (orange element)
    2. Elements of the internal coup d’état within the Russian government itself due to increased infighting of two major power groups: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder” (Wikipedia).
    3. Elements of mass dissatisfaction with the result of Yelstin criminal privatization and resulting criminalization of Russian economics along with pretences of new wave of national bourgeoisie on carcass of the USSR devoured by Yeltsin mafia (which produced the current set of oligarchs).

    I think that he missed the growing role of financial sector in Russian economics which (much similar to its US counterpart) wants absolute “liberasts”-style power in order to enforce neoliberalism and get super-profits
    .
    P.S. Ksenia Sobchak was revealed as a typical female sociopath in this discussion — lying is as natural as breathing for her. All the time, in all circumstances. Sometimes I have impression that for her there is no difference between reality and her lies. Here is one pretty telling moment:

  20. Exhibit #294 on why Medvedev was never fit to be President.

    During a speech at a journalism department (in MGU, I think), he was asked by one obnoxious student if he was ready to be executed like Saddam or whether he would flee to his friends in North Korea.

    Instead of putting down that punk with a witty and biting comeback like Putin would have done, Medvedev actually PRAISED him for bravery. I nit you shot. Talk of legitimizing people who want to see your own head on a pike.

    • Crazy!

      My aunt who was a very successful politician in Greece used to tell me that the first law of politician is never to get into the sort of situation where you are asked this kind of question. Given that the student body at MGU voted overwhelmingly against United Russia Medvedev should have stayed well away. The second law if one is asked this kind of question is to go on the attack by ridiculing the questioner.

      • Exactly, Alex. I agree 100% with you.

        It’s not even politics but basic psychology. Instead of calling out the student for the daydreamer / divisive ideologue, DAM gave him street cred by praising his courage. The mind truly boggles.

        Now it’s one thing if it were Kudrin, who has always been a socially awkward technocrat. But Medvedev used to be a lawyer!?

        Look at Romney when some OWS malcontent pressed him on finances. He essentially told the guy to go to Russia if he likes it that much: “But you know what? America’s right, and you’re wrong.” That’s how a real politician operates.

        • marknesop says:

          It’s difficult to imagine Medvedev as a lawyer; he seems only a short remove from the starry-eyed student idealist himself.

          A good education is a fine thing, but decision-making with the sort of responsibility such as is conveyed by the vote requires a burnishing of experience and worldliness. God save us from the kind of government as that which would be chosen by students. They often fancy they know everything about foreign affairs while they are even at the time living in their first experience away from the streets of their home, and idealism allows one to fancy he or she has what it takes to make decisions that will affect families and grandparents while still years away from having children and the grind of responsibility. Such people value a fine turn of phrase and the outflung arm of manly emotion far beyond their worth. This is why they are easily fused into a chanting mob, and why they turn out disproportionately for demonstrations. Because they’re easily influenced.

          I read that Romney had finally, grudgingly released his tax returns for 2010 and 2011. Unsurprisingly, they reveal that he paid less than 15% taxes on income over $45 million. Mitt is the corporations’ choice, but they’re not as powerful as they think they are and – to paraphrase Grand Funk Railroad – all they’ve got is money.

          • Dear Mark,

            “It is difficult to imagine Medvedev as a lawyer”.

            This is one of the rare cases when I disagree with you. On the contary in my opinion a lot of the trouble is that Medvedev approaches politics like a lawyer. Lawyers are predisposed to take their opponents’ arguments seriously and to look for negotiated solutions meeting their opponents half way. In a politician this can be disastrous and in a situation such as the one Medvedev faces where he has an opposition that is completely unreasonable and irreconcilable and ultimately disputes his legitimacy it is doubly so.

            This does not mean that a legal training is always bad for a politician. At its best it can instill intellectual rigour, which can be a great advantage to a politician with a strong personality and a well grounded system of beliefs. Consider for example how many of the great revolutionaries were practising lawyers before they became politicians. Examples include Cromwell, Robespierre, Jefferson, Lincoln and Lenin. Their legal background becomes very obvious if you study their speeches and writings, which often follow the pattern of legal arguments. Of course merely to mention such titans is sufficient to show what a completely inadequate man Medvedev is.

  21. yalensis says:

    Here is an article from Alla Yaroshinskaya about a televised debate between Prokhorov and Ziuganov which occurred one week ago on Channel “Rossiya-1”.
    According to this account, Ziuganov won the debate hands down and made Prokhorov look like a fool. No surprise there – say what you will about wily (and unprincipled) old Commie Ziuganov, the guy is a master debater. I recall one incident a year or so ago, when Ziuganov debated Putin himself and almost had him in tears with his sharp tongue.
    Anyhow, Prokhorov, whose debut this was to a larger TV public, made a HUGE gaffe. After continuous hammering on his illegally-gotten wealth, which he acquired via dubious means in the gangsta 90’s, an irritated Prokhorov hassled one of his questioners, a Communist Party deputy named Smolin, “Why don’t you come closer? You obviously don’t see me very well…” [Turns out Smolin is legally blind.]
    Putting aside Prokhorov’s poor debating skills and lack of preparation for the debate, the key issue was that of 90’s privatizations and the ongoing class struggle to either keep or reverse those privatizations. Ziuganov hammered Prokhorov mercilessly and promised (if elected) to re-nationalize Prokhorov’s ill-gotten wealth; while Prokhorov fought hard to keep his $17 billions.

    В общем, как отмечали после эфира блогеры, “задача Прохорова — легализация добытых средств в 1990-х. Их дети должны быть уверены в том, что они — будущие хозяева России. И все”.


    “…Prokhorov’s task is to legalize what [the oligarchs] obtained in the 1990’s. Their children must live assured that they are the future masters of Russia. And that’s all there is to it.”

    Yep, that’s what this hokey-pokey is all about.

  22. kievite says:

    Transcription of Medvedev’s meeting with students of Moscow State University journalism department (in Russian)

    http://www.rg.ru/2012/01/26/mgu-stenogramma.html

    Some questions were really hilarious:

    My name is Vladimir Kulikov, I student of television.

    I am very sad for everything that is happening right now in this country’s journalism, domestic television. And I am even more sad for everything that happens in our country. To be honest, the last three years I really ponder about moving to another country. I am very worried.

    In interviews, you very often talk about responsibility, about personal responsibility, about the fact that any decisions you take and feel that will feedback of millions. I am interested in the following question.
    Now in our country is developing a very serious revolutionary situation. I feel in in coversations. I also can feel it in the Internet comments. And I wonder, what will be the strategy of your personal behaviour during the revolution in the country?

    How do you realise your level of responsibility? Are you ready to go in the People’s Court (surely this is likely be the result of a revolution), and are you willing to defend your decisions and their ideals? Do you understand what most likely the court will necessarily be biased, because all the revolutionary courts are biased? Do you understand that, most likely, you can get the death penalty?
    Are you ready to brave it and accept it as did Saddam Hussein, or do you emigrate to the friendly North Korea, the death of the leader so that you sympathize with, as opposed to Vaclav Havel? Thank you.

  23. yalensis says:

    @Mercouris: Dear Alex, thanks for reminder of October Revolution historical background. I had forgotten some of the details. Lenin/Trotsky/Stalin were serious revolutionaries, not like the clowns of today. These weekend warriors have only had 2 demonstrations, both on weekends. With more than a month in-between. Their next gig is scheduled for February 4. Meanwhile, Putin has had plenty of time to gather his troops for a resounding counter-offensive. Other difference: Bolsheviks actually had a fully written-out political program, which included abolishing capitalism. Other difference: factory workers supported Bolsheviks with general strike. Can you imagine even one Russian out of 120 million going on strike to bring Prokhorov or Navalny to power? Excruciatingly funny! Sobchak was right when she called her silly cohorts “mink-coat revolutionaries”.

  24. Dear Yalensis,

    Going completely off topic it seems that the situation in Libya is so bad that UN secretariat and the Libyan interventionist cheerleaders in the Guardian have finally been forced to admit the fact. Of course anyone reading your posts would have known all this weeks ago.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/26/libya-torture-national-transitional-council-editorial

    • yalensis says:

      As one of the commenters to this Guardian article notes (and I have read in many other sources), “Doctors Without Borders” had to pull out of the Misrata detention center when they realized that the prisoners they were treating were being sent back repetitively for more torture. In other words, the doctors were expected to treat prisoners after a torture session, in order to revive them enough, so they could be sent back in for more torture. There are estimates of tens of thousands of Libyans being tortured by the NTC/Al Qaeda government and militias. A majority are Libyan citizens who happen to be ethnic Africans, many are being detained indefinitely and tortured for no other reason than their ethnicity. One of the reasons the Benghazi/Al Qaeda element detest the Africans (above and beyond simple racism) is because the ethnic Africans also practice a slightly different variant of Islam. For example, they use tombs and mausoleums, which the Wahhabists do not allow.

      • marknesop says:

        And I don’t want to, you know, keep on about it – but the NATO planners were well aware in advance of their plunging in that the side they were preparing to back was a pretty unsavory lot. Taken as a body, NATO appears to be a collective fan of chaos theory, the old must-destroy-the-village-in-order-to-save-it philosophy. So, as commenters point out, there is no reason at all to appear surprised now. The only variable was whether or not the uprising would succeed, and there seems little question that it would not have had NATO not gotten involved in a capacity that went far, far beyond the “protection of civilians” fig leaf.

        I haven’t seen any reports on what’s happening in Tunisia these days, but that’s less relevant as that one seemed to be a genuine spontaneous uprising in which it probably was not necessarily to the west’s advantage for the regime to fall. Egypt, however, is a colossal mess. Libya, as we see here, is a colossal mess, and still far too restive for the energy giants to move in and soothe everyone by spreading money around. The “rebels” were quite clear they had no intention of doing backflips of gratitude for the military assistance. So it’s hard to see by what measure it could be rated a success.

      • yalensis says:

        “Doctors without Borders” pulls out of Misrata prison:

  25. yalensis says:

    What galls me the most is the lost opportunity to the continent and people of Africa. Gaddafi’s patronage and investment fund consisting of billions that he set up to help develop this potentially wealthy continent – it is all gone now, and Africa is back in the thrall of colonial powers who have been exploiting and brutalizing for hundreds of years. I am not saying Gaddafi was perfect, he did some bad things in Africa and sometimes took the wrong side in various conflicts. But overall his intentions were good, and the investment fund could have helped pull Africa up out of the gutter it has been consigned to. Also granted, many African leaders themselves are their own worst enemies – and Jacob Zuma of South Africa deserves a special criticism for stabbing Gaddafy in the back. If Zuma had stood firm against NATO, he could have made a difference. (The same could be said about Medvedev, but he has less reason to give a shit about Africa.) Having said all that, the USA and European colonial powers are responsible for keeping Africa down in the dirt, exploited and brutalized. Gaddafy’s crime was trying to do something about this. His idea of an African “gold dinar” currency was one of the main reasons he was targeted for assassination by the West.

  26. kievite says:

    I can tell you guys that you are way too serrious ;-)

  27. yalensis says:

    Mass protests in Romania:

    http://www.inosmi.ru/europe/20120128/184149959.html

    Translated into Russian from a Czech newspaper. Czech author Petr Jedlička makes it sound like Romania is some distant, remote planet, and nobody can possibly know what is going on there. I just checked the map, and Romania (EU member) is right in the middle of Eastern Europe. It borders Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. With Slovakia not far. All literate, civilized countries. (More or less.) So I don’t accept Jedlička’s argument that what is going on in Romania is simply unknowable, and impossible to access without sending in Stanley and Livingstone to hack through the jungles.
    Apparently the protests started on January 12 as expression of solidarity with resignation of Deputy Health Minister Raed Arafat (a Romanian of ethnic Palestinian origin). Arafat resigned to protest proposed “reforms” in health care which would privatize Romania’s socialistic health care system.
    So, many of the protests have a “socialist” character, although the demonstrators are not tied to the existing Left opposition parties and seem to be leaderless. In other words, the protesters are employing the Facebook/Twitter/OWS/direct democracy form of protests. But they are not wearing silly ribbons because, unlike Russian protesters, they are not sponsored by Western NGO’s, in fact, these protests are unsanctioned by the West, and the Western media is totally ignoring them.
    [If anybody cared to ask my opinion, these amorphous, leaderless protests cannot result in anything except a waste of human time and energy that could be better spent studying the issues, organizing the base, and writing up a political platform. As Lenin once remarked, without a political party and leadership, disenfranchised people cannot possibly accomplish anything. But that’s just a sidebar…]

    • Dear Yalensis,

      You are totally correct about this. A week or so again I was saying that western media reporting of the protests in Russia was disproportionately greater than western media reporting of the protests in Hungary. I stand by that. However the western media did at least report the protests in Hungary whose government it dislikes. By contrast the protests in Romania, where the protests have been proportionately on a much bigger scale than the protests in both Hungary and Russia and where the protests have also been far angrier and more violent, have been barely reported at all. Romania’s government is of course staunchly pro western and is leading the attempt to “win” Moldavia for the west. As a matter of fact “winning” Moldavia appears to be a higher priority for the Romanian government than developing Romania itself, which is one reason why economic and social conditions there are so bad.

      Romania is the giant of the Balkans and is blessed with a big and well educated population, great natural beauty and abundant natural resources and should therefore be a rich country. It has a rich and fascinating culture with an outstanding cuisine and wonderful music. Unusually it is both Orthodox and Latin. The language is very close to Italian and educated Romanians can understand Italian without too much difficulty. Italian influence is very strong both in politics and culture. The outward ceremonies of Ceasescu’s dictatorship and Ceasescu’s rhetorical style in his heyday in the 1960s and 1970s were for example closely copied on Mussolini’s, which Ceasescu would have remembered from his youth.

      Romania has been disastrously governed for as long as I can remember because the obsessive focus of the Romanian political class is Moldavia rather than its own country. This is so even though the great majority of the Moldavian people have made it repeatedly clear that they do not want to be “recovered” by Romania. In fact many Moldavians seem if anything to prefer renewing Moldavia’s historic connection to Russia rather than any sort of union with Romania.

      The single minded focus on Moldavia was by the way every bit as strong under Ceasescu and was the main reason why Ceasescu’s relations with the USSR were so bad. It is a little known fact but one which was personally confirmed to me by people who would know that Ceasescu and Brezhnev hated each other from the time when Brezhnev at the start of his political career back in the 1940s was a very successful First Secretary of the Moldavian Communist Party. Shortly before his fall Ceasescu actually publicly denounced the treaty between Romania and the USSR that had made Moldavia part of the USSR and declared the reacquisition of Moldavia his personal goal. In his two final speeches and at his trial he made it fairly clear that he believed that the USSR had engineered the coup against him in retaliation. Since then though the regime has changed the objective has not.

      Though I have not been to Romania recently acquaintances of mine who have tell me that the standard of living of most of its people is now actually lower than it was in Ceasescu’s time. If that is true (and I can barely believe it) then given how bad conditions were then conditions must be little short of appalling now. That presumably explains the protests and why they have been so violent and so angry. One thing I can say is that corruption and crime in Romania are completely out of control and are far worse than in Russia whatever claims organisations like Transparency International may make.

    • cartman says:

      I think the protests actually began because of the death of a child in one of Romania’s hospitals. The problem with Romanian healthcare is the problem with open labour markets, and the poaching of skilled professionals by wealthy countries. There is a gloom around South Africa because of the demographics. The country spends and spends to train people in healthcare, but because they speak English, they move to English-speaking countries (particularly Canada) for higher salaries. So Canada gets nurses and doctors added to its healthier system which is paid for by much poorer South Africa.

      Romania is in a similar situation because their doctors can easily learn French and find work there. France then spends less training its own doctors.

  28. I am honestly at a loss.

    Are the liberals truly that hopeless, or do they *want* Russia to fail?

    http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2012/01/27/russia-davos-and-the-rule-of-law/

    Shuvalov manages to scare off investors with his “honesty” about Magnitsky, as opposed to mouthing a bunch of meaningless but positive platitudes.

    • And this is the man who is in charge of attracting foreign investors?

      What would have been so hard as telling Browder that the case is still under investigation and invite him to come to Russia to (as we used to say in England) “help the police with their enquiries?”.

    • marknesop says:

      Jeez, I hate these people. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest they do want Russia to fail; otherwise it would be expressed as, “maybe investors should be cautious, bla bla bla” rather than, “looking for another reason not to invest in Russia? Here it is”. Their perspective is if Russia can’t be a success with a liberal at the wheel, then it should be a failure because success with a bad, bad man like Vladimir Putin and his Magnitsky-killing henchmen in charge sends all the wrong messages.

      Not at all, of course, like the death of Dr. David Kelly in the U.K. Many will remember him as one of the voices in the wilderness who spoke out against the justification the Blair government used to propel Britain into war with Iraq. As time has revealed, he was absolutely correct, and the “evidence” was completely fabricated with the government’s full knowledge and participation. For being right (actually, for trying to get in the government’s way when it saw a means of increasing national power and influence at someone else’s expense) he was hounded and smeared by the government as a traitor. He allegedly took his own life as a result, and the official investigation (the Hutton Inquiry) was a complete whitewash which absolved the government of all blame. A subsequent government indicated interest in reopening the investigation, and a group of doctors submitted the findings of a year-long medical follow-up. Their report concluded Dr. Kelly could not have died as the Hutton Inquiry found he did, both because the vein he allegedly cut is so small and difficult to access, and because there were no prints on the gardening knife he supposedly used, although he was not wearing gloves.

      God only knows how they learned all that, because Lord Hutton directed that most of the evidence in the case be sealed for 70 years. Unusual in a suicide, wouldn’t you think? What happened to the leader of the government in power when Dr. Kelly died, by whatever means, and who pressed on with a war that shamed the nation for its duplicity and very likely contributed significantly to its present bankruptcy? Why, he’s the Special Envoy to the Quartet on the Middle East, which claims as its mandate the resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. How’s that working out so far, do you think? Zero progress notwithstanding, Mr. Blair is respected by many, revered by some as a great peacemaker. Dr. Kelly is rotting in a hole in the ground. Is anyone at work on a law that will prevent Mr. Blair and prominent ministers of the government he led, Lord Hutton and all their wives and children from traveling? Ha, ha – sorry, I didn’t mean to laugh. He does have something in common with Vladimir Putin, though – nobody seems to have a straight answer on how rich either man is. In Putin’s case, partisan zealots like Stanislav Belkovsky insist he is a multi-billionaire, although they can offer no proof whatsoever. In Blair’s case, it is because he channels his moneymaking activities through a network of companies so that he does not have to publicly report his earnings. However, he was a multimillionaire before he left the leadership of the U.K. (which is certainly not the same as saying he left politics), and it is safe to say he has not gotten poorer since then.

      So let’s think about that for a moment. The Russian government admits fault in Magnitsky’s death even though there remains considerable doubt that Sergei Magnitsky was the innocent philanthropic tax accountant the western narrative claims he was, he was certainly not a lawyer as William Browder insists he was and it was definitely not in the best interests of the Russian government’s case against him that he die at that particular point in time. People in supervisory positions were fired or otherwise punished.

      Dr. David Kelly, prominent former United Nations weapons inspector and biological warfare expert, reveals that the Blair government’s cassus belli for war against Iraq is fabricated, and this is later borne out in analysis that reveals the “intelligence report” was actually plagiarized from a U.S. researcher on Iraq. The link provided identifies government officials who forged the document, two of whom were the personal assistant to the PM’s press secretary and the PM’s junior press officer. Dr. Kelly is portrayed as a traitor in leaks by the government, is later found dead and his death declared a suicide. A whitewashed report clears the government of all blame, and the evidence pertaining to Dr. Kelly’s death is sealed for 70 years. The war goes ahead, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are killed and the country wrecked, and no weapons are found – exactly as Dr. Kelly said would be the case. Nobody in the British government loses his/her job or is punished in any way, no fault is admitted whatsoever, the leader leaves his position to take up another of honour and privilege and steadily increases his personal wealth and prestige.

      Russian liberals who would ape the behavior of the west’s political leaders should take a good, long look in the mirror, and think about growing beards. That way, they won’t have to repeat the experience if they don’t like what they see.

      • Dear Mark,

        I never thought to make the comparison between the deaths of Magnitsky and Dr. Kelly that you make though actually I think it is a very good one. I was by the way in a privileged position to follow the Hutton inquiry because I was working in the Court at the time and many of the lawyers involved were my friends.

        I have no doubt that Dr. Kelly committed suicide and was not murdered but that actually makes your comparison not worse but better. I happen to think (indeed I am sure) that Magnitsky also was not murdered. The belief that Dr. Kelly was murdered is passionately held in Britain by some members of his family, a few of his friends and a large number of people who are in political terms marginal. That describes exactly the sort of people who in Russia think Magnitsky was murdered. Foreign governments have not however adopted the theory that Dr. Kelly was murdered, debated the supposed murder in their national parliaments or imposed sanctions on the British officials who they say were involved in his death, which is what they have done in the Magnitsky case.

  29. yalensis says:

    Article by Irina Dzhorbenadze:
    On January 30 (Monday), Gruzian President Saakashvili will meet with Barack Obama in Washington DC. Former Gruzian Prez Shevardnadze speculates that Obama’s purpose is to recruit Saakashvili’s assistance against Iran. According to Shevardnadze,
    Obama will lobby to bring Gruzia into NATO effectively immediately. This is prerequisite for Iranian campaign, because Gruzia will be needed as staging ground for Iranian invasion. Once Gruzia is in NATO, Russia will be cut off from her military base in Armenia.
    Saakashvili’s meeting with Obama will precede the NATO summit in Chicago:

    http://www.rosbalt.ru/exussr/2012/01/27/938632.html

    • marknesop says:

      To the very best of my understanding, NATO membership is not possible so long as a country has unresolved territorial disputes. Georgia…ahhh…has a couple of them, which fact was prevented from escaping anyone’s notice by a violent attempt to take them back in 2008. Also, the United States cannot simply gift countries with NATO membership, as powerful as it might think it is – there is a process, and nothing could make it that rapid short of a broad waiver which would essentially broadcast to the world that there are no rules the west will not break in its pursuit of its own interests.

      Coincidentally enough, the agreement negotiated with Georgia to permit logistic resupply of the 102nd Military Base in Armenia via air and land routes owned by Georgia was suspended by Saakashvili following the 2008 dust-up, and annulled for good last year, also by the Georgian government. So in effect, Russia has been “cut off” from its Armenian base since 2008. Although there should be little doubt it could reestablish the link in a couple of days if it chose to do so.

      I thought Obama was smarter than that. It’d probably cost quite a lot, both in money and political favours, to bring the Georgian army into the picture, whereas he could probably hire the same number of homeless people to shoot up apartment blocks as if they’d never spent a day as professionals in uniform – then scream and drop their rifles and run at the first sign of organized counterattack – for billions less. What happened to being careful with the taxpayers’ money?

      I’m really sorry I haven’t posted anything new for such a long time, but I’ve been crazy busy with work and family and consequently am able only to drop in occasionally to comment. But thanks to everybody for keeping things going with great and interesting information!!! I really will try to get something new posted soon.

      • yalensis says:

        I do take Dzhorbenadze’s argument with a small grain of salt. I have found her to be a fairly good reporter and analyst on Russia-Gruzian relations. But she IS a Gruzian patriot after all (albeit not a rabid Saak-ite), and I think she is indulging in a bit of wishful thinking that Obama will wave a magic wand and get Gruzia into NATO tomorrow. The price Gruzia would need to pay for this glorious event: serving as staging base for Americans against Iran. [Dzhorbenadze doesn’t mention, but Gruzia currently has HUGE trading relationship and actually not bad political relations with Iran. So this war will really harm them a lot.]
        Having said that, she does lay out a plausible possible scenario, and quotes Shevardnadze to back it up. The scenario is this:
        America decides to go to war against Iran. Russia supports Iran but needs to break through to their Armenian base. Gruzia is brought into NATO in order to preempt this, because Russians won’t have the balls to send troops into Gruzia once it is NATO member.
        I realize there is supposed to be a process to get into NATO, there are rules, and there are other countries to consider. But seriously, when did Americans ever take rules and other points of view into consideration? Well, maybe they did (a little) in the past, but definitely not under Bush Jr.; and Obama is, in anything, even more arrogant and imperious than Bush ever was, when it comes to foreign policy. So, if Obama decides tomorrow that Gruzia gets into NATO, well, then Gruzia gets into NATO tomorrow. (Literally tomorrow, that is when Saak arrives in Washington. I will follow the news and try to stay alert.)

        • It is important to remember that at the NATO summit in 2008 the Germans supported by France blocked Bush’s and Saakashvili’s attempt to get Georgia into the NATO membership programme. As I remember there was a colossal row between Merkel and Bush during which Merkel was apparently scathing about Saakashvili whom she considered a clown. This was before the 2008 war following which Merkel is supposed to have made the point in private discussions that if Georgia had been in NATO the west would have been legally bound to defend it. It is surely no accident that the first news media admissions in the west that it was Georgia that was the aggressor in the 2008 war happened in the German press.

          I cannot see that anything has happened to change Germany’s position. On the contrary the strong impression I get is that Germany has if anything drawn even more towards Russia since 2008. Coming on top of the tensions over US missile defence plans I cannot imagine that the Germans would want to jeopardise their relations with Russia even more on Saakashvili’s or Obama’s behalf. As for the US needing Georgia as a base from which to attack Iran, the US does not need Georgia to be in NATO for that to happen since Saakashvili is in no position to refuse any US request for Georgia to be used in that way whether Georgia is in NATO or not. Frankly given how the Germans feel about the prospects of a war against Iran the idea of Georgia joining NATO so that it can be used as a forward base against Iran is one that it seems to me is likely to alarm the Germans even more and to give the Germans even more reason to oppose Georgia’s NATO membership.

          • marknesop says:

            I find it hard to warm up to Merkel, possibly because she’s such a machine, but she is nothing if not a pragmatist. The USA might be able to skew the rules to suit itself, but it can only do that so many times before it is obvious to everyone that there really are no rules – that everything is viewed in light of national advantage, and the rules amended accordingly. There’s a name for such a nation, it’s not “free-market democracy”, and its a label the USA strives to avoid unless it’s applied to someone else. And you’re quite correct that in this case, national advantage for the USA would not translate to broad advantage for everyone, particularly Europe. If it began to become obvious that all a country needed to do to be accepted into NATO was prostitute itself to western interests, where would be the vaunted integrity of the alliance? Where the exclusive club atmosphere, the impression that one would have to meet pretty tough standards to get in? It’d be clearly nothing more than a grubby playground marriage of convenience, a shiny toy awarded for having come aboard in the unqualified role of camp follower. That established, how could NATO be contrasted favourably against the Warsaw Pact, the Axis of Evil or the Caucasian Emirate? The purity of its goals? Ha, ha.

            Saakashvili fancies himself a global strategist and master manipulator, and is so far from shy about expressing his regard for himself that the western media might want to back off a little on hyping his western education – it’s no longer a positive reflection. And it’s fairly transparent that his view of NATO membership is exactly as Merkel feared; he wants that mutual-defense pact, so he can drag NATO into his further adventures with Russia – or, at the very least, to smirk and mug at Russia from behind NATO’s coattails and use its collective menace as a bargaining chip. For a guy who’s touted as multilingual, he really speaks only one language, and it’s force.

            But I give Obama more credit for smarts than that despite some incredibly boneheaded blunders he has made. He still looks pretty damned smart contrasted with would-be leaders who promise an American base on the moon in exchange for the keys to the White House (lending currency to the old chestnut about promising the moon). And he should know that NATO membership for Georgia spells short-term-advantage-long-term-pain as clearly as naming your newborn son Zippy (because he’s so cute) without thinking about how he’s going to carry that name around when he’s 40.

            I’m sure that in spite of all that’s reasonable, the United States really does crave war with Iran, mostly on Israel’s behalf, and Bibi and the Likudniks are doing their utmost to make it a U.S. election issue. But NATO membership for Georgia is a bridge too far; a down-payment on which the west would have to pay and pay and pay. Put me down for “not happening”, although Saakashvili’s dog and pony show will doubtless be worth watching and it is equally certain that he will spin any meetings he has with U.S. government officials as “encouragement for Georgia on its path to NATO membership”. That won’t even really be a lie, because the USA would dearly love to bestow NATO membership upon Georgia. But it’s simply not worth what it would cost later.

            • Saakashvili is a very dangerous individual who consistently overplays his hand. He is also a serial fabricator of “facts” to the point where it is difficult to know any longer whether anything we think we know about Georgia is one of his fictions or a real fact. Georgia’s economic miracle is a case in point.

          • yalensis says:

            Hi, Alex, You make some good points, but I think there are a couple of counter-points to take into consideration:
            (1) Merkel had a row with Bush Jr. over Gruzia? This is true. But now it’s Obama, not Bush. Bush was an idiot. Merkel did not respect him. Obama is intelligent. Merkel respects him.
            (2) Germany edging closer to Russia? I am not so sure. I get the impression that German-Russian relations are getting worse, not better, especially after Putin announced for Prez. And I am pretty sure that Germany, along with her Teutonic shadow, Sweden, will be joining the anti-Putin coalition shortly.
            (3) Clarification: Gruzia’s membership in NATO is not needed if just as staging ground against Iran. You are correct that Saakashvili will house and feed American troops no matter what. No, Dzhorbenadze’s point is that Obama will put Gruzia in NATO as a PRE-EMPTIVE move (like in a chess game), that would prevent Russian troops from entering Gruzia to forge a route to their Armenian base AFTER Gruzia joins the anti-Iran coalition. This is all speculation, of course, but intelligent speculation, I believe.
            (4) The Germans may well oppose NATO membership for Gruzia. But will Merkel cave on this issue after Obama turns his oily charm on her and convinces her that this is necessary?
            Oh, trust me, I hope none of this ever happens! I am just spinning out game-theory-like scenarios.

            • Dear Yalensis,

              We shall to see what happens but just to respond:

              1. Russian German relations have had their ups and downs but overall and by and large they have been pretty stable. By cutting itself off from Iranian oil and by closing its nuclear power stations Germany is going to increase its dependence on Russian gas. It must know this and must have made a strategic decision that way. The opening of the North Stream pipeline (against pretty clear opposition from the US and the EU Commission) is a sign of this.

              2. Obama’s legendary charm has totally failed to shift Germany’s or Merkel’s policies on the eurozone crisis. Why should she be more amenable on Georgia?

  30. Here is a good article by the admirable Patrick Cockburn about the true agenda behind the Iran crisis. As always it is regime change.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/patrick-cockburn-sanctions-can-only-deepen-the-iran-crisis-6296132.html

  31. This is how the Financial Times covered the pro Putin rally in Yekaterinburg.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e51f06b4-4a9a-11e1-a11e-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1kt4abP7s

    When the opposition demonstrates double the numbers. When Putin supporters demonstrate halve their number. Claim that people have been dragooned or bribed into coming. Refer to “tepid cheers” at the pro government rally and ignore the booing of opposition leaders at opposition rallies.

    • marknesop says:

      Ha, ha!! Say, when pundits agonize after the election, “How did the west get it so wrong?”, you’ll be part of the small group that knows the answer – the western media repeatedly cons itself. When you rely on “a metalworker turned politician and social activist” for your copy, it will always be blue skies smilin’ in Putin-is-headed-for-the dumpster-land. The pretzel mathematics yield results like the thousands of dead in Syria, killed by Assad’s thugs – according to “social activists”. People who have a vested interest in presenting the situation on the ground in a certain light, in other words (cue North Dakota bluesman Jonny Lang’s snarling wah-wah over “Lie To Me“). For such narrative-driving journalists, everything surrounding or associated with Putin will always be “lacklustre” and evocative of the dusty past, while the anti-Putin demonstrators will always be brimming over with energy and freshness, the Next Big Thing. Unfortunately, there’s no way to translate that kind of mendacity into votes. Thus the “How did we get it so wrong?”

    • yalensis says:

      Here is a vid of the Ekaterinburg rally, speech of Duma Deputy Valeri Trapeznikov. I am not surprised he was unable to pump up the crowd: he is a TERRIBLE speaker. His voice is harsh and grating, he screams too much, he hurts my ears! He begins his speech like an old Communist functionary that I am guessing he used to be: “Working class of the Urals…” etc. Which is funny, because UR is not a labor party.
      (The fact that Trapeznikov does not ignite the crowd does not necessarily mean that they are there against their will or will not go out and vote for Putin…)

  32. kievite says:

    Chirikova:

    • marknesop says:

      If I were Putin’s campaign manager (which is likely Putin himself, but I digress), I would be running an abbreviated version of that clip as the lead for my newest campaign ad. First the voters would see Chirikova and her fellow dozen or so wilderness wingnuts capering around the bonfire like an outtake from “Lord of the Flies”. The last frame would freeze, and a single line of type would be superimposed: “The new face of the opposition.” Then a narrator with a robotic monotone would read selected clips from the FT article Anatoly cited; “Looking for another reason not to invest in Russia? Here it is.” The narrator’s voice would fade out, and another typed line would come up: “Here’s the opposition’s plan for looking after your security and prosperity”.

      I’d be tempted at that point to cut to a 2-second exposure of the entire United Russia cabinet laughing until they had tears in their eyes, but that’d be too much, and might actually inspire sympathy. Better to let the viewers reach their own decision on the flakes who think they are leadership material. Chirikova suggests the potential to overcome even Yulia Latynina for self-righteous bigheaded tirades.

      Note to United Russia – if you use this, please do not send me any money. I’m not allowed to work for foreign governments.

    • Moscow Exile says:

      Это сурковская пропаганда!

      • yalensis says:

        Look at all the environmental damage they caused with their antics: lighter fluid, ashes, harm to native wildlife. I do not see the correct safety precautions. Where is the emergency fire extinguisher? These idiots could have set the whole damn Khimki Forest ablaze!

    • yalensis says:

      This is classic Gene Sharp tactic right out of the OTPOR playbook: Make puppets, caricatures, etc. of the “hated dictator” and invite people to mock and destroy those images. This prepares people psychologically for that glorious moment when they burst into the palace, seize the tyrant, and do to him physically what they had practiced on his image.
      P.S. In a more realistic reenactment, Chirikova and her woodland friends would have prepared the puppets, then i-Phoned in the coordinates to NATO drone to finish them off.

      • I cannot understand what Chirikova is saying but this is childish behaviour. Someone needs to take Chirikova aside to tell her to calm down or some people might start to wonder what sort of woodland mushrooms she’s eating.

        PS: Yalensis, is this a case of “dizzy with success”?

        • yalensis says:

          Ha ha! Who can tell what the heck she is saying? She is just babbling nonsense! :)
          Better to listen to this nice song celebrating Winter in the forest (our Czech friends will appreciate)…

  33. Boris Nemtsov, VVP supporter.

    • yalensis says:

      Say what you will about Future Tsar Boris the Great, he is one hunky-looking guy! Those dark gypsy curls and massive biceps — Mama Mia!

  34. kievite says:

    News on the propaganda front

    1. Opposition now tries to increase its presence in all media outlets and dominate social media. For example in LiveJounal some people complain that Navalny bots have system preferences and can post even if settings for blog entry discussion are set to “friends only” Here the role and personality of Anthon Nosik, Media Director at SUP (which is running Live Journal among other properties) became really interesting ( http://dolboeb.livejournal.com/ ). Some context about him is at http://www.ojr.org/ojr/workplace/1017962263.php and here http://anton-nossik.livejournal.com/16069.html . His Linkin profile contains employment history http://www.linkedin.com/in/anossik

    2. Classic “anti-Kerry methods” were recently very effectively deployed against Putin

    Strongly smells with Rove operation “Unfit For Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry ”
    Google “ветераны Вдв против Путина” for quite interesting search results that suggests a well-organized campaign.
    See also http://www.zavtra.ru/content/view/desantno-pesennoe/
    Compare with typical pro-Navanly blog http://chronicsrus.livejournal.com/ or http://chronicsrus.livejournal.com/
    Also smells with a new infusion of money from common suspects.

  35. yalensis says:

    Obama meeting with Saakashvili yesterday:
    President Saakashvili said he was leaving the Oval Office “very happy because we basically got what we wanted to get.”
    Except NATO membership, I guess…

    “And one of the first things that I did was express my appreciation for the institution-building that’s been taking place in Russia – in Georgia [he immediately corrected himself]; the importance of making sure that minorities are respected; the importance of a police and system of rule of law that is being observed,” the U.S. President said.

    As soon as Saak leaves his office, Obama turns to Hillary: “Tell me again who that creepy guy is?”

    http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=24399

    • marknesop says:

      Saakashvili is a politician, and unsuited really by virtue of his huge ego to be anything else. He knows that part of being a successful politician (which means doing right by yourself, not necessarily the country you represent, I hasten to add) is keeping your game face in place at all times. If you are upset or disappointed, never, ever show it – spin it into something positive; the voters are watching. By this point in Saakashvili’s stellar career, “getting what we wanted” could mean not getting physically kicked out of the oval office, but being allowed to enter as if he were riding in on a big list of accomplishments.

      Perhaps this would be a good time to discuss those. Saakashvili promised to eliminate corruption – has he done it? Is the life of the average Georgian better because of his leadership? I doubt it. It’s still many times poorer than Russia, likely just as corrupt as it ever was except for the people who no longer have to rely on unofficial cheating since they were brought into the government by Saakashvili, and South Ossetia and Abkhazia are still not happy, prosperous and loyal provinces of Mother Georgia. What has Saakashvili accomplished, exactly?

      • Dear Mark and Yalensis,

        Mark, you were absolutely right about the Georgian miracle being all smoke and mirrors. I have found this academic study prepared for the British think tank Chatham House that shows how bad the real situation is.

        http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/Research/Russia%20and%20Eurasia/bp0311_macfarlane.pdf

        Chatham House cannot be accused of pro Russian bias. It is Britain’s oldest and most prestigious foreign policy think tank and generally reflects government policy. In some ways it resembles the Rand Corporation in the US. The moderate language of the article and the continuous effort to give Saakashvili and his regime the benefit of the doubt surely reflect this fact. In a way though this merely makes the study’s overall conclusions even more damning.

        Judging from this article Georgia is not going forward but backwards with the underlying deterioration being masked by what are for Georgia massive capital inflows. In other words what keeps Saakashvili afloat is western money he is being given as financial payback for his anti Russian policies.

        As for corruption it too seems if anything to be getting worse. The article discusses it extensively and shows how it has become institutionalised. One thing I find particularly sinister is the use of the Stalinist practice of confiscating the private property of people the regime claims are corrupt but who one suspects are its political opponents.

        I would finish by saying that judging from this article this business has a real potential to turn very nasty. Saakashvili comes across as violent and reckless and completely unscrupulous. He does not impress me as the sort of person who would quietly give up power merely because he lost an election and the possibility of this all turning violent and dangerous is surely there.

      • In terms of at least low-level corruption, I would differ and say that it is almost undeniable that the situation has greatly improved. Only 3% of Georgians said they or their household paid a bribe in the past year. This is compared to 26% in Russia and even 5% in the US.

        Apart from that, the list of real achievements has been pretty lacking. Growth in recent years has been only slightly higher than in Russia, which is distinctly unimpressive when one considers that Georgia has yet to recover to Soviet-era levels of output and that the GDP per capita differential is a factor of about four.

        As for Saakashvili, well, let him speak in his own words:

        “If they [referring to Russian troops in Abkhazia] are listening now I want to tell them not to declare state of alert, it’s just fireworks. They are not much afraid of rockets, they can kill hounded, thousand, ten thousand, hundred thousand of own citizens without hand trembling. But they are scared to death of fireworks, songs, spirit of freedom and spirit of rebuilding.

        Our enemy in thier musty [military] unit – no one gonna serve them Elarji [corn porridge with Sulguni cheese] and I am sure they are having thier oat porridge and pea and even most of that is snatched by thier officers – are watching with sorrowful eyes as they apparently can’t understanding why they have been deployed on that beautiful [Abkhaz] beach, why they are protecting emptiness behind them and from whom. …

        We have chosen a different path, which I think is the right path – five and seven-star hotels instead of tranches; the best aqua parks in Europe instead of land mines; this beautiful amphitheater with its dance club and very beautiful football fields and new spa resorts instead of new military bases.

        On that side there is barbarism and on this side here is a civilization; on that side there is Mongoloid ideology and holdovers of that [ideology] and on this side here is a genuine, ancient Kolkhidian Europe, the ancient civilization so we will always prevail.”

        He also said that Anaklia alone would host 200,000 tourists by 2013 and about 400,000 by 2015. He said that Anaklia would turn into “the largest resorts on teh Black Sea. He said that in overall Georgia will have 7-8 million tourists by 2015.

        • yalensis says:

          Again with that “Mongoloid” bullshit and anti-Tatar bashing. It is SO racist. It really ticks me off. Mongols and Tatars are wonderful people, they are not barbarians, they do not deserve this type of abuse…. Grrrr!

        • marknesop says:

          I remember that comical announcement – that tourists in Georgia would soon rival citizens in numbers – and the savaging it got in the Georgia Media Center. Unfortunately, that site has been shut down and turned into some kind of Facebooky abortion where you must have an account and monitors can track what kind of information is being solicited and passed and by whom. Unsurprisingly, the rejigging of the premiere English-language venue of the Georgian opposition into a glorified feelgood chatroom passed unremarked by the western media.

          Coincidentally, on the very occasion Saakashvili the Crackpot announced his sweeping vision of tourists swarming Anaklia like ants on apricot jam – to a background of self-congratulatory fireworks – the brand-new footbridge connecting Anaklia to Ganmukhuri nearly collapsed after cracking in several places. This was viewed by at least some sources as symbolic of Saakashvili’s bull-like charging ahead without doing any of the background work, and just trusting it would hold together long enough to wow his western backers:

          Giya Huhashvili, an economic expert, calls attention to the fact that at the time of TV speeches the president constantly repeats: “they say, but it’s not true. The country is reviving and makes progress”. However, the country’s progress, the expert remarks, has nothing to do with quickly built defective constructions and their presentation under the light of grandiose fireworks. “Just several weeks ago a majestic opening ceremony of Batumi opera theater and a bridge in Anaklia was organized”, – Huhashvili is quoted by Medianews. – A few days later the roof of the theater started to leak because of the rain, and the equipment Saakashvili boasted of was damaged”.

          “As for the bridge, it took a huge budget to build it, – the expert points out. “The idea was to organize a fireworks show against the naked back of the president’s new favorite. It is hard to innumerate how many more examples like this we will have. It’s sad that the part of society sees a virtually reborn happy country on their boxes they call TV sets. This is a psychological impact on people. Look, things are fine in the country. And if you have a problem, it’s your personal fault – the authorities are not to blame”, – he emphasizes.

          It’s also worth noting that all the Georgian reporting centres that are polled by Transparency International in cobbling together its figures on corruption are controlled by the Georgian government. This was reported by the now-defunct Georgia Media Center. A figure of 3% for petty corruption sounds pretty low. Recent comments on the Transparency International blog for Georgia complain that end-2011 amendments to Georgian law and the criminal code “jeopardize freedom of expression and freedom of property and will have a restrictive effect on civil-political activities. Furthermore, most of the legal prohibitions imposed are unreasonable, the sanctions disproportionate and it creates an uneven election environment“, and that the national water/power utility is owned by a shell company in Geneva representing Silk Road, a consortium which numbers multimillionaire wacko Donald Trump among its partners. Multiplex Solutions AG appears to be associated with Silk Road, and won a 2007 privatization contract to take over the national utility business although it was not the lowest bidder. Hmmm… sort of sounds like those Halliburton contracts in Iraq…

        • Dear Anatoly,

          I think the article addresses the point about corruption that you make. It seems that whilst visible petty corruption has disappeared large scale but less visible corruption within the elite appears to be increasing. This appears to be the opposite trajectory to Russia’s, where elite corruption in the top government structures and at the highest levels of the political system has at least by comparison with the 1990s been brought under some sort of control (or has even disappeared) whilst petty corruption in the health, education and police system remains widespread.

          On the subject of corruption, I know you have your own index. You might therefore be interested in a joke people used to make in Greece in the 1960s about the three types of corruption. These are

          1. There is supposed to be a fully staffed hospital but no one there will treat you unless you bribe them to do so;

          2. There is supposed to be a fully staffed hospital but no one there will treat you because there is actually no staff in the hospital as the manager is pocketing the wages;

          3. There is supposed to be a fully staffed hospital but no one there will treat you because there is no hospital, the minister has pocketed the money set aside to build it and his friend the director is helping himself to the wages.

          If you take this joke seriously then it seems to me that corruption in Russia is of the sort that appears in 1. If corruption in Georgia is as in 2 or 3 then it is actually worse than Russia’s but less visible.

          As to Saakashvili’s quotes, the man sounds like he is intoxicated.

          PS: Corruption in Greece in the 1960s was 3. It is now 1.

          PPS: Whilst on the subject of corruption the BBC documentary on Putin made clear that early in Putin’s Presidency Khodorkovsky was able to defeat a new tax bill that sought to increase taxes on the oil industry by systematic bribery of the deputies in the parliament. There were interviews with Kudrin and Greff, which confirmed this. Needless to say the BBC drew no conclusions from this but continued to represent Khodorkovsky in the documentary as a champion of democracy and a victim of political persecution on the part of Putin.

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